No. 10: A different brand of entertainment - Las Vegas Sun

[OC] (Mis)Adventures of an Inexperienced Shipgirl Commander [Chapter 3]

This one took me a little longer than I had wanted, as I was attempting to find a good spot to split this one in two. Unfortunately I couldn't really find a decent place to break this Chapter, so have a little over 4k words to enjoy!
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(First)||(Previous)
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As much as he wanted to just demand answers of the waterlogged Sakura huddled upon the Laffey's deck, Christensen knew that he had other responsibilities. The first of those was figuring out where exactly would be a safe haven upon oceans that were presumably hostile to their little band of misfits. Although he hadn't asked directly, the officer had a good idea of how much fuel both the warships under his command carried. Laffey was operating at around half her stores, and the Saratoga had even less than that. The only problem was that there were no known friendly ports in these waters, and certainly none that would have a healthy stockpile of oil they'd be willing to part with. As if sensing that he was deep in thought, the brown kitsune managed to drag herself to her feet and take a few halting steps in his direction.
Christensen moved to support her before she fell in her face. "I did not give you permission to touch me, human!" She snarled.
The young man merely arched an eyebrow. "You can barely stand on your own power." He pointed out.
She sighed softly. "I know, and I shouldn't take out my anger at the injustices dealt to my sister and subjects on you. You offered us aid and succor when anyone else likely would have turned away, and for that you are an ally of the Sakura Empire. Here," she thrust a damp bit of paper into his hands. On the paper were coordinates.
"Sister," the white fox protested weakly. "Are you sure this is wise?"
"No," came the swift reply. "But do we have a choice? We have no ships. Our bonded grief has made us weak, and we are in no shape to survive long enough to exact our vengeance."
"Akashi likes the human, nya." The green haired cat supplied helpfully. "He braved the fires for me."
Noshiro chuckled gently. "Akashi, you like anything that doesn't immediately pose you harm. Still, I find myself in agreement with our resident mechanic. The little bunny destroyer wouldn't shut up about her commander when she pulled me aboard. At the very least, he has the respect of two of the most decorated Eagle Union ships in their fleets."
"Laffey is famous?" The little destroyer asked, having returned with an armload of blankets she presumably pilfered from her unused crew quarters.
"Laffey?" Kaga inquired, struggling to sit up all the way. "Sister, isn't she the one who wounded Hiei?"
Akagi stared at Laffey with new respect. "The very same, unless I am mistaken. You are quite celebrated within the Sakura, little destroyer. It took Hiei a long time to recover from the wounds you inflicted upon her, even with Akashi's help. And then you managed to survive and escape! It was all Hiei could talk about for months."
Laffey looked slightly overwhelmed, so Christensen cut in. "She was abused by the Eagle Union command. Her crew and captain left her out to dry, essentially."
"Which would be why you're her commander now, hmm? You beguiled her with silver words, charmed her into following you?"
"Laffey's commander saved her from a bomb. Nearly died in the process." The bunny shipgirl's words were blunt and a little icy; she quite obviously didn't like the thinly veiled insults.
"Ha!" Kagi barked a laugh. "You keep underestimating him, sister. Mayhap you should quit doing so."
“So it would seem. It's obvious he is cut off a different cloth than the humans we’ve dealt with before.”
It was at this point the young officer cut in again. “Are you sure you’re okay?” Concern colored his voice. “You’re kind of all over the place. One minute you seem to hate my guts and the next you’re complimenting me.”
Akagi sighed. “Bonded grief hits different ships in different ways. While Akashi and Noshiro can get away with just a general feeling of weakness and unease, for shipgirls like my sister and I, we who are one portion of the Sakura Empire’s leaders get affected worse.”
“So why don’t you talk about it, then? Seems to me like you could use an ear of an outsider.”
Akagi stared at Christensen for one long moment, and her contemplating expression was eerily mirrored on her sister. “You might have a point. However, first things first: those coordinates I handed you are the location of a secret Sakura base. It was originally going to be a safe haven for wisdom cube experimentation after the end of the war. As far as I’m aware it never saw use and has almost no facilities to speak of. Despite this, it will have a rather sizable cache of supplies there. It should be enough to last a while until something better can be put into place.”
Christensen nodded his thanks, then handed the slip of paper to Laffey. As he did so, Saratoga arrived with even more blankets. Montplier seemed content to just ignore the little gathering upon the Laffey and for the moment the officer planned to just leave her be. “Laffey, head to these coordinates. We’ll find shelter there. For a little while, at least.”
“Yes, commander. Laffey is underway.” Christensen felt the destroyer underneath him shift subtly to its new heading, and for a moment he marveled at the idea of a warship being piloted by a single shipgirl as opposed to hundreds of sailors. Akagi clearing her throat brought him back to the present.
“It would be prudent for me to start at the beginning, and offer a little history lesson. The Sakura Empire is governed by three primary bodies. On one side, you have the shrine mothers Fusou and Yamashiro. They, along with the shrine maidens in their service, represent and safeguard the spiritual aspects of our people. They ensure the prayers of the Sakura Empire are heard by our gods, which makes what’s happening in the homeland even worse; they do not know that they serve false deities. On the other side, you have me and my sister. We are the embodiment of our magic; we teach those strong in magic and who wish to learn while also acting as the last line of defense of our home.
“And finally, above both the shrine mothers and us sisters, is Lady Nagato. She blends both the spirits and the magic, keeping them in balance; as such she is the highest authority. Which is why, when she disappeared, Kaga and I finally had the first seed of hesitation sown within our breasts. As ones who are close to Lady Nagato, we knew that she wouldn’t just leave without a trace-- not without discussing her plans beforehand. Despite this, we remained willfully ignorant. Our gods insisted she was fine, and was merely taking a sabbatical to prepare for her ascension into a higher being. We took that to mean she was being elevated into a demigod and so ignored those first warnings.”
Christensen caught on to the implications fairly quickly. “You suspect that the sirens are behind her disappearance. The Sakura Empire worships the sirens as your gods, correct?”
Kaga appraised him coolly. “You’re not wrong. When the sirens came to us, demonstrating wisdom and magic that should have been impossible, what else could they be other than our gods finally answering our prayers? So we worshipped them. And when they directed us to start the second world war, we complied. The Sakura dreamed of a nation of shipgirls, where we wouldn’t be discriminated against! We dreamed of a world where we could make humans respect us and all we could accomplish! The humans of our nation were all too eager to hand the reins to us; some feared our power, others coveted it.
“But we did not know that the sirens had other plans and desires. They grew bored with the war, it seemed, and they directed us to pause our military operations. We entered an uneasy ceasefire with the other nations of the world. Shortly after that, Lady Nagato disappeared. We were content with the explanations of her absence, for a time. Eventually, however…” Here it seemed the white kitsune was at a loss for words, and her brown sister wasn’t faring much better.
“We discovered that the siren’s treachery ran deep,” Noshiro stated somberly. “I watched it happen. They confronted Akagi and Kaga, under the pretence of receiving the people’s prayers. I could scarcely believe what I saw, but they cloned Akagi and Kaga.”
Christensen furrowed his brow. “Cloned? Like, make duplicates of them?”
“Precisely,” Akagi growled. “They created perfect dopplegangers of my sister and I. Told us that the Sakura Empire had no more need for our services, and then our dopplegangers, who are somehow far more powerful than anything we’d ever encountered before, attempted to slay me and my sister. We survived and fled, attempting to reach our warships and escape the immediate reach of the sirens. Noshiro followed, knowing there was a chance she could be next. We did not make it very far upon the waters before being set upon by a huge host of Sakura Empire ships, far more than ever seen before. Some of them were our former comrades, brainwashed into following the new de facto leaders of the Sakura. Other ships were empty husks with no crew or shipgirls, sailing upon simplistic instructions imbued with magic.”
“Akashi was the only one not affected by the siren’s directives, nya.” The green cat girl spoke quietly, sadly. “She knew the Akagi and Kaga the fleets had been ordered to attack were the real ones, but no one else would believe her. So I was ordered to be sunk for being a traitor.”
“And I’d be willing to bet those fleets were heading right towards Pearl Harbor.” Christensen slammed a fist into a palm. “The timelines make sense. The battle scoring upon your ships suggested you had been attacked earlier in the day, which meant you guys had no part in that massacre. The damage was also done with unconventional weapons, supporting your story of the siren’s betrayal. Then there’s also the fact that there were far too many planes for just two or three carrier groups, and those planes were moving in directions impossible for normal aircraft…”
“So you see now why my sister and I have sworn to get vengeance.” Akagi snarled. “I don’t know how yet, but we will!”
Saratoga interjected for the first time since she had returned to the Laffey. “Well, Laffey and I will help! Right, Laffey?”
“Fighting the sirens sounds like fun,” Laffey agreed sleepily. “Laffey likes the idea of fighting something so strong.”
“Don’t I get a say in this, here?” Christensen was starting to seriously doubt his ability as a commander of anything, much less headstrong shipgirls.
“Hush, commander.” Saratoga stuck her tongue out at him. “I know you, you were planning on helping anyway; I just beat you to it.”
The officer grumbled. “You’re not wrong. The sirens aren’t a foe we should just ignore, particularly if they’ve usurped the entire Sakura Empire. However, our first priority is still getting ourselves a halfway decent base running. Two functioning warships aren't going to accomplish much of anything against the sirens, and no one is going to want to aid us in our endeavours without a place to call home. Laffey, how far away are we from the Sakura base?”
“Several hours, commander. Laffey will sail through the night, and we should arrive early tomorrow morning.”
Christensen nodded. “Relay the plans to Montpelier, and tell her what we’ve learned about events so far. I would strongly suggest the rest of us get some sleep. Being tired isn’t conducive to fighting a war.”
The Sakura were all too content to curl upon the Laffey’s deck with their masses of blankets, but Laffey herself forbade it. She didn’t see any reason why they couldn’t instead use the warship’s crew quarters, and Christensen had to agree. They were still slightly damp, and no amount of blankets were going to do much to stop a cold ocean’s breeze when the sun finished its dip below the horizon. So it was that after the four displaced newcomers had been settled in and warmed, Christensen found himself standing alone in his own cabin. In his hands he held a standard army issued carbine, along with several empty magazines he had pilfered from the Laffey’s crew storage. With utmost care he placed the long forgotten gun and its magazines upon a makeshift shrine; in this case, the shrine was nothing more than a low table drug up from the galley and covered with a white tablecloth. The officer carefully placed a few candles also scrounged from the galley about the table’s surface, and gently lit them with a match. Then, from within another of his fatigue’s many pockets he withdrew a sealed plastic baggy that contained a handful of photographs.
The first four he fished out were of the four companies of troops under his command. Trying to place names with faces was nearly impossible with that many marines, but even without names he recognized a vast majority of the faces, all crammed together as tightly as possible so that everyone was represented on camera. The fifth, likewise, consisted of his administrative staff. The very last one was the one he spent a good bit of time staring at, running a thumb gently over the glossy surface. It was a simple photograph, depicting Taran Christensen and Susan Nikolas glaring mock seriously at the camera. She had been a good leader, and a good friend. She had carried with her a single-minded determination towards her duty, as he did. Their marines used to joke that the two of them were married to marine life, and to an extent it was true. Neither one had been much interested in receiving honorable discharges and settling down to start their own families somewhere, and neither one had been much interested in anything other than one night stands while on leave. And now she was gone, likely buried under whatever rubble Pearl Harbor had become. Her and the rest of his marines, most of whom he’d fought side-by-side with in the second world war. Silent tears began to drip upon the photograph, and it was in this state that Montpelier found him.
She watched him silently for a while, her own expression softening slightly. “Did you know these warriors, commander?”
Christensen didn’t even realize what she had called him. “...No. But I know their stories... I know all their stories. None of them ever think it’ll end like this. When they die, they expect to go out fighting on the frontlines. Fighting for what they believe in. Not stabbed in the back during a ceasefire, from a race who doesn’t even come from this world. There are a lot more dead marines out there after all of this. Warriors.”
“Do you feel that you should have been the one to die in that massacre?”
“No.” His swift response kind of startled Montpelier. “This isn’t the first loss I’ve suffered, although none before have been this large. One of my old drill instructors sat me down after I lost three of my men in an ambush-- this was sometime during the second war, when I was still a rookie officer fresh out of school. He told me not to let losses discourage me; they’re part and parcel of the job. It's not possible for an officer to always make the best choice, to always ensure everyone under his command makes it back home. He told me that since I’m still alive, still capable of leading, I have two obligations. The first is to the living. I have to do everything in my power to get those who yet live back to their families, and I can’t do that if I’m distracted by the dead. My second obligation is to those selfsame dead. Those who are dead are a patient bunch. There’s no reason to hasten their comrades to their side, and making poor decisions dishonor the dead’s sacrifice. I’ve always taken his words to heart. I made my choice to get Laffey, Saratoga, and by extension you out of that hellhole. While it pains me to think that the largest force I’ve ever commanded is likely entombed at Pearl Harbor, the shipgirls took a higher priority in that moment. I feel that you guys are going to be the main driving force behind this war.”
“Perhaps Laffey and Saratoga are right to follow you. Are you going to offer a prayer for the deceased? I can come back later if you’d like.”
Christensen shook his head. “I’ve never been the religious sort. This is simply the last sign of respect I could offer for the fallen.” He glanced at the grey haired shipgirl out of the corner of his eye. “Commander, huh? I assume you’d like to have that talk now?”
Montpelier shifted nervously from foot to foot. “Okay look. I was wrong, okay? I used to think commanding was just about giving orders from a comfy room while sounding like a bigshot-- I’ve never known anything else. But then you show up, and you’re different. Most of the captains I’ve met have been a decent sort, but anyone ranked higher than a captain? They didn’t care. They were more than happy to send us off to fight in their wars, and if we became too damaged to repair? I imagine they’d be all too happy to just toss us aside once we were no longer useful. A shipgirl can’t just be transferred over to a different ship. The ship we’re named after is ours and ours alone, so why keep a broken weapon around? But then you challenged all of my understanding of how things are. Despite my own misgivings, and despite you being there at Pearl Harbor, you were willing to risk your own life fishing Sakura girls out of the water. You've got a tough job, commander. I don't envy you."
Christensen took a while to mull over her hasty speech. "I find it funny to hear you say that. I never wanted to be a leader, y’know? I joined the marines because my father was one, and I had nothing else I felt like doing after high school. I figured I’d do my four years of service, get my honorable discharge, and hopefully be a little wiser in the world. But then the conflicts leading up to world war two started. My unit was shipped off to the front line. We were decimated. Hadn’t even been in battle for fifteen minutes and, through sheer bad luck, the marines took the brunt of it. Not just my unit either but others. I was only a sergeant at the time but suddenly I was one of the highest ranking officers in the field. See that picture of me and that other marine? She was another sergeant, Sarah Nikolas. We scraped together what was left of our units and managed to make it back to base. We kept winning skirmishes and the next thing I knew I’d been fast tracked to lieutenant colonel, given command of an entire brigade with Nikolas as my XO. We didn’t even realize the war had started until much later; the skirmishes I’d been winning were the opening battles of this huge war we were small parts of.”
“Maybe you were just meant to lead, huh? It was your fate, or something.”
“I’m not one to put much stock in fate. I do what needs to be done because I’m the most qualified. Simple as that. But it is getting late, and we should get some rest. Do you plan to stick around?”
Montpelier studied the young man for a long moment. “I have one condition: help me find my sisters. You promise that, and this Knight of the Sea will be yours as long as you need her.”
“That is a promise I’ll be willing to make, with one caveat: I’m not going to just devote all of my resources into finding the other Cleveland-class cruisers. I’ll spare what resources I can to the search, but you’re simply not the only shipgirl I have to look out for.”
“I suppose that’s as good as I could hope for. I’ll hold you to that promise, commander.”
“And I’ll accept you, Montpelier, into my service.” Like Laffey and Saratoga before her, Christensen became aware of Montpelier’s presence in the link they shared.
“So this is what those two were talking about,” Montpelier mused. “It kind of feels funny.”
“That it does. It's something else that I’m going to have to spend some time looking into.”
“Have fun, commander. Good night.”
“‘Night, Montpelier.” As the cruiser exited the room, Christensen blew out the candles and at last collapsed upon his bed. Today had been mentally and physically draining, and tomorrow would likely be just as exhausting.
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Taran Christensen was sleeping on a cloud. That was the only explanation as to why he woke up to greet the sun and promptly felt as though he could lay in that spot forever. He lay there with his eyes still closed; he had left his door slightly ajar last night and there was just enough sunlight streaming in through the open portal to tell him that it was right at oh-six hundred. He felt oddly calm as he finished rousing himself despite the rollercoaster of emotions he’d had to deal with yesterday. He didn’t feel completely at his usual hundred and ten percent, but that was something that would return in time. He’d learned a long time ago that trying to force yourself to be okay was a good way to have everything promptly blow up in your face later.
He finally opened his eyes and was initially confused at what they were telling him. The first thing he actually became aware of was the colors white and brown. The second thing he became aware of was the warmth, and as his coffee-deprived brain finally started parsing what his senses were telling him, he recognized the feel of another person sleeping almost atop him. In this case however, it wasn’t just one person it was several. Kaga and Akagi were spread out on either side of him, trapping his arms underneath their surprisingly light bodies. Akashi was curled about his ankles like an actual cat while Noshiro and Saratoga slept on either side of the fox sisters right over top of his wrists. A slight sleepy murmur drew his gaze upwards, and he could just make out Laffey; somehow the bunny destroyer had wedged herself between his head and the bulkhead behind the bunk. The only one missing was Montpelier, and he was actually kind of grateful that there was at least one piece of normal in this insanity. For a moment he was at a loss for words, before he finally whispered, “Apparently I didn’t make it out of Pearl Harbor after all. I suppose this is whatever passes for an afterlife for a soldier: in a bed with a bunch of beautiful women.”
It was only after she spoke that he realized that Akagi was also awake and looking at him. “You are not dead, human, though I am flattered you find me beautiful. You are in this predicament because my sister and I were restless and sleep would not come, and investigating Noshiro and Akashi led us to discover they were similarly afflicted; likely a side effect of our bonded grief. I am not entirely sure why we joined you abed, but my magic sings when I am near you. So here we are.”
“Magic? Sings?” Christensen was understandably confused.
“I told you that Kaga and I are the magical leaders of the Sakura Empire. While that is true, it is also true that every shipgirl has some form of magic; the Empire doesn’t claim a monopoly on that. We call it magic only because it is the simplest term we know of to describe the powers we possess, powers born from wisdom cubes. I know not why but my magic, that which is a very integral part of my being, is exceptionally happy while I am near you. This discovery allowed me to have the best night of sleep I’ve had in awhile.”
“I see.” The officer’s gaze drifted first to Laffey, still asleep at his head, to Saratoga at Akagi’s side.
“They care for you deeply, you know. You are an enigma to me, commander. Who are you, to command such respect? Especially from a destroyer you’ve only just met? I talked to Laffey last night. You were complete strangers before you threw yourself into harm’s way for her sake.”
“I am simply me. Nothing more and nothing less. And who said anything about me being your commander? Three ships essentially going awol is bad enough. A fourth? That’s pure insanity.”
“It would actually be seven, dearest commander.” Now Kaga was awake, apparently. “Where my sister goes I inevitably follow. Considering how quickly both young Noshiro and Akashi took to you as well, it should be obvious you’re stuck with us.”
Christensen sighed in exasperation, but with no real heat behind the action. “Great. Fine. I’m your commander now, apparently. First things first then. Laffey? How far away are we from those coordinates?”
The destroyer sat up and stared at Christensen upside down. “Laffey supposes she should have known better than to try and pretend to still be asleep.” Darting down suddenly, the diminutive shipgirl stole a quick kiss from her commander’s lips. “Commander tastes of safety,” she announced. “We’re less than half an hour from the base by Laffey’s reckoning.”
Laffey bounced off towards her bridge, leaving the only male in the room visibly confused. “Why did she kiss me?”
“Why indeed,” Akagi tittered.
Feeling as though he wasn’t going to get a proper answer from the kitsune, Christensen instead caught the puppy eyes from Saratoga from where she’d sat up. “Hug?”
With another sigh, Christensen extended his arms towards his first shipgirl friend. Saratoga leapt into his arms gleefully, snuggling down next to his neck. “I am disappointed that Laffey took the first, so I’m gonna have to go on the attack too.”
Saratoga’s kiss was much longer before she broke away. Her giggling echoed around the cabin as she also took her leave, entertained at the officer’s dumbfounded expression. “Just what have I gotten myself into?” He demanded of the universe. He finally managed to make it to the Laffey’s bridge some time later, long after the four Sakura had departed. His ears still burned with the fox sister’s constant teasing.
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Let’s Build D100 Ancient Beings

Contributors: u/3hypen-numeral3 u/Tin_Dragon u/PhoenixKnight777 u/Sageking14 u/staypuffgoomba u/lumo19 u/inkwell13 u/Flutterwander u/Alecsixnine u/Cakeythecakemaster u/ladyvague u/onion_lad u/polarberr03 u/TheFlaccolantern u/wooq u/HeyShipmate u/FirstChAos u/Theenderking115 u/RollinRawlin u/Saucememer u/mildlyconcernedghost u/SMGB_NeonYoshi u/Textuallyattractive u/TheMightyFishBus u/FungalFan u/VampirateRum u/TheDrunkenMagi u/fony64 u/Antiochus_Sidetes u/PNXX u/DefendtheAttic u/KilltheScot u/Holy_Hand_Grenadier u/Rub1knifeinthesky u/mrbgdn u/WSHIII u/bacon_flavored u/PQRXZ u/AngelofDeathIX
  1. The Swamp Lurker: a six foot tall elven woman with skin lesions and leprosy ulcers. The Swamp Lurker has been spotted in swamps all over the world and is always carrying a lantern. Legends say that she was once a cleric that was desperately trying to cure her city of a deadly disease. Those who make pacts with her have the strange quirk of attracting flies. She has been known to assist travelers as well as kill them.
  2. Corrin: an artificer that had achieved lichdom through human transmodifications. Corrin is now more machine than man.
  3. The Chained King: a large creature with black feathers and demon horns. The Chained King was punished by the gods for using forbidden magic. The Chained King now remains locked away by three chains, each will be broken if certain requirements are met. As of now one of the chains was broken when a woman gave birth to a beast.
  4. Fafnir: a 15 million year old red wyrm that has survived off of his unending list for gold. Fafnir uses his greed as motivation to remain forever living.
  5. Volk: a primordial living at the bottom of a volcano. Legends say when Volk arises from the volcano the entire continent will be lit aflame.
  6. Sobrick: a crocodile human hybrid often worshipped by lizardfolk who is said to spring from the bottom of the ocean depths to eat the sky when he escapes a maze of coral he is trapped in.
  7. Galia: The mother of all dryads, Galia is found in a forest in the feywild and is said to be 100-300 feet tall. Galia is responsible for creating seasonal change. If Galia dies she simply is reborn from her old corpse. Galia is lawful in nature and will only appear to those who she wishes to see.
  8. The Watcher: an invisible entity with eternal life grated to them by the gods of death. It’s impossible to know how old the watcher is or where they are at any moment but what is certain is they are always gathering information. Warlocks have made pacts with The Watcher but even they have never talked to or seen them.
  9. The Monolith: a monk that has been meditating for 2000 years. The Monoliths real name is Feng and he has not aged since he had been in meditation. The Monolith while being unconscious still has subconscious defenses. Many assassins have tried to kill The Monolith only to have their mind bombarded with psychic energy.
  10. William Greyhammer: a dwarven paladin that upon death was offered the opportunity to be the guardian of Celestia. William spends his days at the gates of Celesia making sure the people who enter are allowed there.
  11. Drakeslayer: a greatsword that was forged by a great cleric. Drakeslayer can speak telepathically and has a hatred for dragonkind. Drakeslayer is a +3 weapon and deals an additional 2d6 to all dragons.
  12. Behemoth: a 6 legged bear-like creature with chitinous plates and fur, a hairless head and sharp needle like teeth. Roaming the heart of the oldest forest in the land, its roar is audible from the villages near the edge. They say it sounds like the screams of thousands of creatures dying, and the war drums of a legion
  13. Goliath: a tiger-like creature with one pair of legs and a pair of muscular arms. It’s fur is thick and drips a dark viscous syrup. A head that looks almost reptilian in nature and thick sharp teeth like the heads of spears. It’s roar sounds like a screeching violin. On its stomach is a deep scar, scholars say the Goliath got this scar from a fight it survived with The Behemoth
  14. Spawn of Orcus: This entity is the result of an ancient summoning ritual gone wrong in the Underdark. 30ft in diameter, the Spawn of Orcus is an amalgamation of over a hundred humanoid corpses and skulls, fused together in a disgusting mutated formation of perpetually rotting flesh and bone. For centuries it has writhed in agony in a gigantic cavern known as the Sepulchre Sanguinis, where the original ritual once took place. Its agonizing wails can be heard for miles, and its only wish is it to spread pain and suffering to those who cross its path.
  15. Warforged Dragons: a peculiar species that was uncovered only recently. Warforged dragons are the rarest type of dragon and come in all forms of metals like copper, steel, iron, and even aluminum. The largest and most intelligent of the warforged dragons known is Gorashi. Gorashi breaths fire and poison, they have been known to make deals with mortals for knowledge they have gained in their lifetime.
  16. Barothgar: an orcish sorcerer that steals the remaining life force of the creature he kills. Barothgar has killed so many creatures that his estimated lifespan is 1.3 trillion years. Barothgar is a name feared by all orckin. Some old and sick orcs venture into his mountainous domain so that Barothgar can give them a warriors death.
  17. Phenrodna: A failed attempt at creating a being with the power of sorcery artificially, Phenrodna is sealed inside a large gemstone through the use of the Imprisonment spell, and has been for many hundreds of years. Originally a normal human, it has lost that humanity, the wild magic coursing through its veins mutating it into a mercurial form that is ever shifting, while also driving it insane, and making it exceptionally powerful. It can be released from imprisonment by three kings simultaneously touching the crystal.
  18. Karthonon: a lich that lives in the feywild and is worshiped by the fairies living near him. Karthonon uses his worshippers as subjects for his alchemichal experiments. Karthonon is as of now not very well known however many of the feywilds best divination wizards forsee of a dark being using his power to destroy the summer court. Whether the being succeeds is uncertain. The dark being these wizards see is Karthonon.
  19. The Weeping King: A ghostly apparition that resides in a lonely, decaying long hall in the wetlands. Tears seem to eternally flood from his eyes and his hellish wail drives men to their knees. When he holds aloft his chipped, rusted sword a host of long dead warriors manifest around him
  20. Kumbaka: a dragonborn bard that was one of the first dragonborn ever born into existence. Kumbaka spent his life learning as many instruments and languages as possible. One day using his charm and cunning Kumbaka made a bet to a god of magic that if they couldn't kill him before he was done with his preformance tomorrow was over then he would be unable to age and won't die until they are finished counting to infinity. The god of magic agrred to this bet with confidence but on the night of the performance Kumbaka was nowhere to be found. Kumbaka had actually preformed in a different plane of existence which bought him enough time to finish his preformance before he could be found. Kumbaka knows that the god is almost done counting to infinity amd is planning one last show three years from now. In his life Kumbaka had learned to play 13 instruments and can speak 6 different languages. Kumbaka is proud of his accomplishments and is ready to die.
  21. The Hermit of the Glade: No one knows how old he is, but he has always been there, and will always be there. His house is well maintained, though of low quality. For some reason no one ever bothers him, and few even bother to visit. He is always polite, helpful and could even be called friendly by those who have tried to visit. Perhaps he is some old man blessed/cursed with immortality, or perhaps there’s more to his story.
  22. The Beast: A boar that has lived in the underdark for 1000 years. He was ordinary boar that grew too large. Throughout the ages hunters have tried to slay The Beast, but none have triumphed. The Beast has only grown, both in size and hatred. His thick hide bristles with the spears and blades of the hunters and warriors it has bested.
  23. Früdwark The Elder Giant: no one is sure if Früdwark is a storm giant or a separate breed of giant entirely. Früdwark is by far the largest and oldest giant known to giant kind. Früdwark has no concern for other giants, dragons, or mortals and simply wants to be left alone. Früdwark has a distaste for dragons especially because dragons seem to be the creatures that are always trying to pester him the most. Früdwark has been known to make deals with mortals so that they can stop bothering him and so that they can kill dragons who bother him.
  24. Filtara: the oldest dracolich still alive. Filtara was the creature that had taught mortals to achieve lichdom at the cost of their servitude. Filtara was betrayed by her servants and was banished to an endless void somewhere in the shadowfell. When Filtara escapes her prison she will plan to make all humanoids extinct for what they have done to her.
  25. Ythandr: a pit fiend that owns the endless library which is a huge landmark in the nine layers of hell. The endless library is considered the library with the most books and information within its walls. Those who make too much noise in the library are swiftly dealt with by Ythandr. First time offenders are warned and left with a painful burn mark, second time offenders are taken to an area of the library simply labeled "pain room". It's a mystery what happens in the pain room but each offender spends 20 years in it and always leave with the parts of their brain pretaining to memory removed and given back to them in a jar. Ythandr is one of the very few devils that were born before the nine hells existed.
  26. The Trader: a quiet, strange being who pulls a cart full of strange magical items for no known reason. They wears a cloak that is always oily for some reason, a mask that completely hides their face, and large leather gauntlets that go up to their elbow. They only accepts other magic items of equal value for trade, and their stock is completely random, one day they may have only a +1 dagger, the next they may have multiple +5 vorpal swords. They are immune to all magical effects, including any forms of divination. If a PC asks a god or being with similar power about them, the god/other being will have no clue who they are talking about. They are friendly to the party, but will refuse to leave their cart or reveal any skin no matter what.
  27. The Poison Tree: The Primal Aspect of Knowledge, both good and ill. Uncovering new information is to be celebrated, even when it brings about ruin. Some scholars believe the tree is purely a metaphor, written about to conceptualize complex ideas in a primitive age; some believe it to be real, and strike out on lifelong journeys to find it and eat of its fruit.
  28. Eros: Referred to as "The Mother of Monsters" in common parlance, this entity shares its name with the later goddess of love, though Eros is far more primal. It is love and lust in all of its forms, and its offspring and faithful are hybrids of monsters and humanoid species. Violent and terrible, the Forbidden Plateu of the Cult of Eros is home to rare species of beast and plant life. The very air there is said to corrupt mortals beyond recognition, twisting them into amalgams of man and monster.
  29. The Iron Pillar: Deep in the earth, it sings an endless song to all who dig toward it, though they do not understand it. Those who find it, fall to their knees in worship and expire in mortal terror.
  30. The Pig: a very strong woman with the head of a boar. The Pig can be found anywhere and everywhere as long as there is dim light. The Pig is a lawful neutral being that punishes those who try to defile the laws of nature. The Pig is said to be a failed experiment on how to prevent hunger but why the entity has lived for such a long time is beyond explanation. Those who have been killed by the hands of The Pig are found with no face and black ooze bubbling from a hole in their chest.
  31. The Yawning Willow: A sentient tree that speaks via the wind blowing through its leaves. The Yawning Willow is so old that it invented the language of druidic and has taught some of the first druids the ways of nature.
  32. Rinoir: he uses the body of a human once sworn in pact to Rinoir, now an avatar to him, as a demonic machine that has twelve mechanical arms protruding from the human’s old, withered, and blackened corpse. Rinoir is desperate to find a new host as his current one is getting more and more fragile as each year goes by.
  33. The Duke of Stone: a 20 foot tall being made of various stones and metals. The Duke of Stone is near impossible to describe due to their alien nature but some defining features are its many eyes and sharp, jagged body (if that even is a body at all). The Duke of Stone is a creature who takes joy in learning of its prey before petrifying them and engulfing their stone body into its horrendous figure. The Duke is always joking about how it "eats" and "sleeps" like a fleshbag, thinking of any creature smaller than him as a toy.
  34. Qpljhyt: an entity made of a pink fleshy substance that forms into a circle. The name of this creature cannot be pronounced by any creature except for gods and powerful aberrant mind sorcerers. Qpljhyt has been around since the creation of the material plane and will only give information to those who he wishes to give information to. Qpljhyt cannot attack but can use a special reaction to force a creature to make a DC 28 intelligence saving throw, on a failed save the creature is reduced to 0 hit points and on a successful save the creature take 30+20d12 force damage. Any creature reduced to 0 hit points by Qpljhyt are erased from time and space. Qpljhyt has a hit point total of 4000.
  35. Talveer: A roughly humanoid figure made of grey living ropes bound together, wearing rough clothing that seems to be made from parts of various clothes and other materials sown together. They wander the wilderness, if encountered by heroes or others with potential, they will offer a strange quest. The rewards will be good, but the consequences of failure morbidly bizarre. Accept the quests at your own peril, follow every letter and you will be rewarded, a single mistake will be worse than death.
  36. The Night Owl: an immortal being who owns a demiplane where the sun never rises and the party never stops. Those who get trapped on his plane cease to age with the downside of never being able to escape the endless party.
  37. The Birds: Ancient beings of Shadowfell that seep into the material plane through their disciples. Nobody knows where The Birds came from or what their true intentions are, as each of their followers are given a different set of powers and directives, but they are powerful. Those who know of their existence speak of visions of thousands of voices speaking at once, being in the center of a tornado of black wings, and an overwhelming sense of dread.
  38. Thornhart: A very old, forgotten god of life and nature, may be offspring of (insert your god of nature). His appearance resembles a massive hart with white fur tinged with green as if moss has been growing over him, with antlers made of interwoven vines covered in blooming flowers of all colors. A rainbow rack, it's called. Once long ago he was worshipped as a god of protection, rewarding those living close with nature. Now all he protects is his own Grove, mostly forgotten by all except the oldest of druids. He is standoffish to an irrational degree towards all but the most reverent of druids.
  39. Stormpale: A very old, forgotten god of war and death, may be offspring of (insert your god of war). His appearance is a massive falcon (about the size of a young red dragon) whose feathers are so black they seem to drink the light. He appears as though he's a shadow in the sky, or rather, a shadow projected onto the sky. The only part of him that is not inky blackness are his red eyes, which don't so much glow as they seem to reflect light back in a red haze. Seeing him in the sky has long been considered a very ill omen, portending war, famine, or death of some sort. However, at this point, being forgotten for so long, he is simply lonely, and is content to have a conversation with anyone.
  40. Arachae Cythalia: roughly translated from deep speech meaning queen of spiders, Arachae Cythalia is a spider with an old hags face and human feet on each of its ten spider legs. Arachae Cythalia has been building a web from the deep realm to the material plane and she will soon achieve her goals. Arachae Cythalia believes she deserves to be the goddess of spiders and intents to kill the current god of spiders. Arachae Cythalia gives birth to a freakish human spider hybrid race that has not been seen by anyone in the material plane. The ettercap species is considered a perversion of spiderkin to Arachae Cythalia and plans to cause a mass extinction to all ettercaps.
  41. Dreamstalker Child: an undead entity that manifests primarily in dreams, travelling from one dreamer to the next. It appears as a young child with an indistinct face that cannot be remembered, wearing a tattered grey linen tunic. If the dreamer reacts with fear or hostility towards the child, it will begin stalking them during waking hours. Small knife cuts will appear on the stalked person's body. If they walk near a dark doorway, they will feel a small hand grab them and try to pull them inside.
  42. The Golden Thrush: a small, plump bird with large, inquisitive eyes. Its plumage is brilliant gold, with brown spots and a white underbelly. Its song is a sparkling high-pitched trill, audible for miles. It is actually a remnant of the consciousness of an ancient forest spirit. If it witnesses someone damaging the forest or attacking the native creatures therein, it defends its domain by diving at the trespasser at incredible speeds, plunging through their body like a bullet. If fed mistletoe berries, it will grant a boon and safe passage through its forest.
  43. Warden of Agathys: a large muscular devil with blue skin and horns made of ice as well as a pigs nose. The Warden of Agathys hold the flail of punishment which is a +3 flail that magically causes painful spasms. The Wardens job is to punish sinners who were vile enough to make it into such a deep layer. After doing the same job for three millennia The Warden has perfected the art of torture to a science.
  44. Duchess of Wasps: a giant wasp with a head set ablaze with purple fire. The Duchess of Wasps can speak telepathically to creatures and loves to feast on mortal flesh. The Duchess of Wasps very rarely allows for deals to be struck with mortals but when she feels generous she allows for them to get power in return for food that her children may eat. The Duchess of Wasps will lay eggs in her victims and wait for them to hatch. Her lair is filled with wasps and corpses of humanoids, goblins, trolls, dragons, beholders, etc. Legends say that The Duchess of Wasps was once a druid that has transformed into a creature as disgusting as her heart, others say she was the first wasp to ever fly, whatever her story is nobody can deny how old and how powerful she is with near impossibly potent venoms, acids, and Psionics capability.
  45. Epok, Tilin, and Merq: The Planestriders: A trio of Alhoons that travel between planes successfully hiding for decades at a time. Every thirty years, they return to the Material plane to repeat their ritualistic sacrifices to extend their lives. They target weary travelers on quiet secondary roads. The story of these planestriders is thousands of years old.
  46. Scourge: a giant reptilian beast from a time long before man existed. It resembles a Tyrannosaurus with wings and horns. It can use a sonic roar as a breath weapon and break down fortified walls. It is said any city he visits is depopulated and left in ruins.
  47. Gnorman, The Gnomish Sythesist Summoner: He's an incredibly old gnome who at this point cant survive outside of his eidolon and is incredibly powerful. He spends most of his time making discount magic gear and supplies for the needy. The eidolon takes the form of a large mass of black tentacles.
  48. The People's God: A sentient, if simple mind created on accident via the arcane architects when a great ritual tripled the size of their city overnight. The People's God, or 'Ol Watchful, as it's called colloquially, is omniscient within the walls of the city and can be asked questions via prayer, though the answers are vague at best, nonsensical at worst. It's whispered that a band of vigilantes and a handful of neighborhood watches have learned to access it's knowledge in a more precise manner, and will go to extreme lengths to keep that knowledge out of the hands of the law. Many have claimed to see Ol’ Watchful but appearances vary from story to story and usually come from unreliable sources.
  49. Heart of The Undead: a mass of black flesh and rotten plant matter located in the shadowfell. The Heart will convulse occasionally and create a wave of necrotic energy from its convulsion. Any non undead who are within a 200,000 foot radius of The Heart while it convulses will take 4d12 necrotic damage. Those who die from the necrotic wave are resurrected as zombies. It is uncertain of the connection between The Heart and undead as a whole but it seems like undead try to protect The Heart.
  50. Shatterquake: An ancient continent-sized Earth Elemental. It is said its steps could cause the very continental plates to shift. It slumbers now, and a family of Halflings have began unknowingly cultivating life from its back. One day, it may awaken.
  51. Yiith?: Long ago. when a cerebrilith devoured the mind of a minor god, its temple home was sealed away, the whole pocket dimension locked for eons and eons in fear of the demon leaking out divine secrets or power into the rest of the world. When the makeshift tomb was finally unsealed, all that was found besides bones and dust was a single sea snail, dull and healthy. It MIGHT be the cerebrilith Yiith, morphed into this inconspicuous form as a disguise or a side-effect of absorbing the god's magic. Either way, the explorers that raided the ancient home knew of its history, and have taken great care to ensure that this possibly-volatile creature stays under lock and key.
  52. Saurothid: What remains of an extremely powerful fiendish entity that was heavily wounded long ago. It is mindlessly spawing lesser monsters in its crippled state, and despite having powers that exceed even the most powerful wizards, it wants to die and will not actively resist against the party trying to kill it. Though it’s endless army of lesser devils and its aura of heat and darkness will still make killing Saurothid a difficult task.
  53. Fuishtar: known by some as The Great Scorcher, Fuishtar is a gargantuan fire elemental that can speak directly to the god of war. Fuishtar is a servant to the god of war and is used as a messenger by the god of war. There is a legend of a battlefield where both sides prayed for the removal of a tarrasque so that they may fight. Their prayers were answered and Fuishtar stayed the monstrosity, the cost of his services is that all tarrasque from them onward had immunity to fire.
  54. The Illumin: They are not known to engage with humans openly. But now and then, those who went spelunking or miners trapped in caves found themselves either led out by a mysterious light being. Or sometimes, led deeper in. The stories told around them are often suggestive that when someone becomes trapped in the dark, they measure a person by whether or not they bring light to others. Then choose to appear and lead them to whatever the Illumin wish them to see. Perhaps it is safety or their end. But whether or not the beings truly gauge such things or if they are each with their own whims and choices is not known to mortals. The Illumin themselves are creatures of the dark, deep, and below places. They are often compared to feyfolk or changelings but some scholars have theorized they share things in common with bioluminscent cave mushrooms or spores. They disappear in areas of light, and can shape themselves as they wish. Another more accepted theory is that they are the result of hallucinations and that they do not truly exist.
  55. Jack O’The Roadside: A tall, pale human man in patched suit who casts no shadow. He is seen by travellers on the side of the road at night, playing a golden harp and inviting them to dance. Should they dance his beautiful melody he will begin to up in tempo until it’s the fastest song in all the lands. It is said that those who can keep up with Jack are granted good luck for 7 years but those who fail encounter naught but misfortunes.
  56. Altabach: A large snake, in the upper range of an anaconda, with off-white scales and black eyes, fangs, and tailtip. Letters and words crawl over his skin like living text. He hoards secrets, and will answer two questions in return for the tongue of one's lover and the liver of a faithful hound.
  57. Stro The Patient: An immense egg that, at first glance, appears to be made of stone. It is sunk partway into the ground, and lichen grows over its surface. No one is certain for how long it has lain there, but there is no doubt it is alive: it's surface is warm to the touch, and a slow pulse, almost like a heartbeat can be felt by those standing near to it. Those living in its proximity may find themselves falling under its psychic influence and performing strange tasks. The ultimate goal of the unborn creature, as long as if and when the egg hatch, remain unknown.
  58. Mother Hornwort: Ancient even by hag standards, Mother Hornwort's hunched figure emanates an aura of power. She rides a giant stork as a mount, and has been known to feed it those she dislikes. She is avoided by sensible folk, but other hags sometimes seek her out for her knowledge, services, or to offer supplication in hopes of earning her favour.
  59. The Giants Shadow: a peryton that has survived thousands of years feeding on hearts and slowly growing. The creature is now larger than a wyvern and its shadow resembles a giant instead of a human.
  60. Soul of Winter: a glowing blue light in the shape of a woman that appears on the coldest night in winter. Many have theories on who she is and why she comes but they all vary from culture to culture. One culture believes she collects the souls of the dead to be judged, another says she is a frost hag that revels in making the coldest nights even colder, some say she’s an illusion brought by frigid weather on the eyes of naive travelers, no one will really know for certain.
  61. Umaraka: a gargantuan sea serpent that guards the entrance into the abyss. Umaraka is worshipped as a god of darkness and the sea by many cultists. Umaraka can speak to its followers through dreams, usually asking for more living creatures to be sacrificed in its name.
  62. The Forgotten King: a once great king that fell upon a curse that would slowly turn him into a god of madness. The gods knew that while they could stop his horrid new form from arising they couldn’t help but watch as the abomination unfolded before their eyes out of morbid curiosity. The forgotten king has been cursed for 500,00 years now and looks like a deformed werewolf, having one hand being larger than the other, a horn protruding from his eye socket, sickly white colored fur, and pure white eyes. The Forgotten King has never transcended into godhood for the other gods refused to allow it. He now waits in his castles ruins waiting for his daughter (who’s been dead for many many centuries) to come back from her coronation as princess (an event that happened when he was still happy). Hearing him ramble on about how proud he is and how he will celebrate with tea can bring any man to tears.
  63. Sabaramha, The Dark Empyrean - The daughter of Tharizdun, Sabaramha is a six armed empyrean exceptionally talented in swords and life magic. Instead of the normal healing abilities that life magic would normally imply, Sabaramha's skills lie in the manufacture of diseases that can wipe out civilizations or the forced evolution of violent magical beasts.
  64. Oreglai, Shadow of Death - Oreglai appears as a giant rotting crow with a 2 mile long wingspan. All plants caught in its shadow wither and die, while creatures are afflicted with a horrible despair that can cause suicidal thoughts. Oreglai is infested with billions of insects that often reach gigantic sizes.
  65. Krullajer, The Fear Tyrant - This golden great wyrm turned shadow dragon feeds of fear itself. Fearing Krullajer himself will empower him and grant him immortality. Whereas, simple fear in general will also strengthen him, yet to a smaller degree. To seal away Krullajer, the gods built a magical artifact to make everyone and everything forget him. This artifact becomes more fragile as general worry, doubt, and fear spread across the world.
  66. Asherl-Khan, The Guilt of Gods - Khan, the former god of glory, was slain and reanimated as this undead husk of a god. Khan's artifact, The Mantle of Glory was also transformed into The Mantle of Guilt which now exhales an impossibly black fog that reanimates the fallen and converts undead into following Asherl-Khan's will. The other gods were too ashamed to face their former friend and thus had Sigil's Lady of Pain seal him away in one of her mazes.
  67. Voltius the Eternal: the oldest known vampire of the world. His large age and the gigantic quantities of blood he consummed granted him god-like abilities relate to his condition. He can smell any warm-blooded creature in a 3km radius, control blood with telekinetic power, making him able to slow down heart-rates, extracting precise quantity of blood, giving blood related diseases, etc..., shapeshift into anything, turn invisible, and is immune to any anti-vampires techniques. You can see his reflection in mirrors, holy water feels like water to him, he can go anywhere no matter if he was invited or not, sunlight doesn't do anything to him...The list goes on.
  68. The Renegade God: A Nameless God who, in ancient times, sided against his fellows Gods. His name was erased from history, an he was chained deep beneath the earth.
  69. The King of Flames: A powerful Titan residing in a blinding palace on the back of a giant Phoenix, by which he travels the world.
  70. The Three-Faced Tree: An enormous and ancient oak with three humanoid faces protruding from it. They will answer any question: one of the faces always tells the truth, one tells what the traveler would want to hear, and the last one always lies.
  71. Xurv: a death tyrant located somewhere in the abyss. Xurv has no grand scheme or plan to conquer, he simply enjoys inflicting pain. Xurv will float above the abyss scouring one layer at a time trying to find demons. When Curv finds one he shoots a laser at it obliterating any trace of its existence.
  72. Pam: a frail old human woman who just never seems to die. She has outlived her children, grand children, great grandchildren and so on for so many generations, but the pain of loss just doesn't seem to dissipate. This has left her a bitter old woman. She holds intimate knowledge of ancient societies because, well, she lived there and she often yearns for the "good old days" when only sorcerers could make fire and magic couldn't be learned by any idiot who could open a book. She has attempted and failed at ending her own life and having it ended for her by provocation, but recently she has altered her strategy in life and is using her knowledge to indugle in a little necromancy. If she won't die, then neither will her great-great-great-great-great-great-grand children. If she succeeds, she will be united with her huge extended, risen again, family.
  73. The Forge: The Forge is a sentient entity...a golem of sorts. The Forge acts more as a portal when a hero commits their first great deed (I.e. slaying a dragon or protecting a kingdom) the Forge will appear out of nowhere, often emerging from nearby water sources of from the shadows. its 12-foot tall stature consumes the hero and they wake up within the Forge. They have the honor of watching the forge create their very own custom magical weapon.
  74. Old Rambler: A bark-encrusted quadrupedal humanoid with a skull that channels it's slow breaths through pipe-like protusions. It’s breath acts as a thick fog and any living thing that breathes in the fog takes constant acid damage, but is revived with increased vitality an hour after leaving it's presence. The Old Rambler wanders slowly through the swamps of which it is considered a patron.
  75. The Walker: Nobody's sure of this being's real name, or even what they look like; the Walker has appeared as male, female, elven, human, dragonborn, and many other races besides. Regardless of their form, the Walker is always found walking down a road or path, surrounded by golden motes of light. They have never been seen leaving or arriving anywhere. If the Walker is spoken to politely, they will reply and offer to grant the person "a light to watch their path". When the person accepts, one of the lights that surround the Walker will start orbiting them instead, and will keep doing so until they die (when it flies off in a straight line, presumably back to the Walker.) If questioned about the direction of their journey or why they have lived so long, they will reply, "Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?"
  76. The Myriad Faced One: a colossal entity that has tens of faces and hundreds of arms. He lived for trillions of years and is located at the intersection of all the planes of the multiverse. His goal is to fusion all planes to create a single perfectly balanced plane.
  77. Ugami: the first ever skeleton, sometimes called the ever-living warrior. Ugami had made a pact with a warlock to remain living forever so he can fight for eternity. The wizard agreed and now Ugami lives in an ancient dungeon waiting for his next foe. Centuries underground has left Ugami completely insane.
  78. Melezabeth: A severed undead head of an ancient giant, kept unliving only by its unsatiable gluttony. It has no bowels and everything it devours comes right through it, chewed and dropped from between all tangled sinews and veins that hang from its stump of a neck, all resembling grotesque tentacles and pseudopods. Melezabeth is mostly immobile, sitting atop of the ancient bottomless well, losing all its meals to the void beneath it. It can crawl, albeit very slowly. It can't be satiated, even with the help of its many cultists, which sacrifice countless victims to Melezabeth's all-devouring maw. Its minions suckle black goo from its disguisting arteries, like lambs of an undead goat, which gives them supernatural strength to do Melezabeth's bidding. They say the head has hypnotic abilities and when fought, it will often cannibalize its minions to instantly regenerate portions of health, catching prey with veiny tentacles and shooting nauseating goo from its swollen body.
  79. The Cottage: Deep in the Far Realm, protected by an unbreakable bubble of force, lies a small, picturesque, thatched country cottage, floating on an floating island of land with a small pasture for two or three sheep, a small wooden shed, and a vegetable garden. Two elderly humans can occasionally be seen, puttering about the garden, milking the sheep, or caring for the cottage in some way. Ancient tomes and beings with such knowledge describe them simply as The Husband and The Wife, but that is largely the entirety of knowledge about them. They, or similar beings, have lived in The Cottage unchanged for millennia. The bubble in which they exist is utterly unbreachable, even by divine power or spells that effect the nature of reality itself, such as Wish. Any attempts to reach the inside of the bubble result in the breacher being hurled from the area with insane speed and force. Anyone attempting to contact the couple through the bubble will be greeted with friendly nods and waves, but no other attempts at communication.
  80. The Abstract: The result of a failed attempt at Lichdom. The wizard was left a torn and deformed being; immortal but cut off from magic. They cannot cast spells of their own. Instead their aura perverts the magic of those around them. Twisting and tainting the effects of spells and magic items or weapons.
  81. Chirpy: A delightfully round songbird. Nobody can fully identify its species but know it to be a magical being of some kind. Chirpy is a primordial creature and despite having powerful magical potential still has the mind of a bird. They cannot be killed permanently by anything short of a god and when out of sight are capable of traveling from one point to another in an instant. Chirpy finds people interesting and will follow anyone who shows it affection.
  82. Liliveth: An ancient Oracle of a long forgotton deity who lives on an island in the middle of the ocean. She represents the turning between day and has two presences: She who walks the light, and she who walks the dark. She resides in two temples built into opposite halves of a mountain. The light temple is filled with light and magic based puzzles. The night temple is filled with dangers and fights taking place in magical darkness. At the end of each, she is sitting upon a throne. Small and frail but radiating with power. In the light, she will answer any three questions you ask, three answers, two truths, and one falsehood. In the dark, she will answer one question per individual, but the answer always rings true, and the asker may not like the answer. After a group leaves her temples, they will not open their doors again for anyone for 1,000 cycles of sun and moon.
83: The Savior: a 7 foot tall angelic being with large white eagle wings, unnaturally pale skin, and no face. The Savior is rarely seen and seldom heard of. When a hero is doomed The Savior will come down and protect them from the fatal blow. Some say The Savior is a solar of the goddess of fortune but it is impossible to say for certain. Sightings of The Savior go back farther than elven history.
  1. Keeper of The Body: a large grey mass that gives off immense amounts of heat and exists just beyond the edge of the universe. Very few have spoken to it but those who have had to pass an intense trail of strength to unlock a stone door with celestial writings saying “I Feel All”. Those who have spoken to The Body gain a feat called Fragment of the body which grants the creature +2 constitution and advantage on constitution saves. The Body tells all it meets that it must reunite with its kin.
  2. Keeper of The Mind: a large blue crystal with other crystals attached to it resembling a pattern that gives off a strange sense of pressure and exists just beyond the edge of the universe. Very few have spoken to it but those who have had to pass a difficult trail of mental fortitude to unlock a stone door with celestial writings saying “I Know All”. Those who have spoken to The Mind gain a feat called Fragment of the mind which grants the creature +2 intelligence and advantage on intelligence saves. The Mind tells all it meets that it must reunite with its kin.
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DEMOLITION DAYS, Part 45

Continuing
Apart from the geology, geophysics, and solid-earth tectonics on this leg of the trip, we were all going ice fishing. The ichthyologist was going to attempt to capture a Greenland shark.
Greenland Sharks, (Somniosus microcephalus), also known by the Kalaallisut name eqalussuaq, is a large shark of the family Somniosidae ("sleeper sharks"), closely related to the Pacific and southern sleeper sharks. The distribution of this species is mostly restricted to the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Ocean.
Greenland sharks are of the species which is among the largest extant species of shark. As an adaptation to living at depth, it has a high concentration of trimethylamine N-oxide in its tissues, which causes the meat to be toxic to humans. But we’re fishing for science, not for food.
Up around Scoresby Sound on the east coast, we’re off onto the attached sea-shelf ice to try our hand at capturing one of these odd creatures.
Greenland sharks can grow to 1,200 kilos [1.3 tons], and 8 meters long [26.2 feet], the size of a great white shark. An individual Greenland shark can be almost 600 years old, making it the oldest living vertebrate on the planet. Many of them are afflicted with ocular parasites, so are almost completely blind.
We used the rotten carcass of a seal. It’s a really nauseatingly smell. But it’s perfect for catching a Greenland shark. Being near blind, the sharks need something really malodourous to attract them.
Bjarke and I cut a hole in the ice with Primacord and C-4, about 2m x 3m. We had attached 1,500 meters of 2,000 pound-test nylon paracord rope, and 15 feet of tire chain with a large shark hook at the end baited with the nauseating seal meat.
This was all tied back to a battery-powered 10-ton electric truck winch which was anchored via several ice-stakes we had literally screwed into the ice some 2-3 meters.
The terminal tackle was attached to a large orange float and set into the hole in the ice. The float kept the line and bait vertical through its descent to the ocean bottom some 700 or more meters deep. Also, the wind kept it bobbling around the water and helped prevent the hole from freezing over.
This was just like ice fishing for pike back home on Sliver Lake.
Except everything was times 100.
The first day we had some vertical float bobbling, but actually nothing of note. Bjarke and I were down the coast clearing some more ice fields for the subsurface radar guys, and helping the petrologists obtain some much needed rock samples.
We got really good at this ice-clearing business. We could actually detonate a pattern of primacord and open up observation windows in the ice. We’d set aquarium air stones hooked up to battery-powered piston air pumps in the holes and keep the water bubbling and in motion as it froze.
Overnight, we’d come back and have perfectly clear observation windows in the ice, where you could see down, down, down to where our lights would no longer penetrate. The polar biologist and marine botanist set up video cameras to record what passed under our windows. With the high power filming lights and low ambient sunshine, we recorded some amazing aquatic footage.
Old Blue was found one morning staring down one of our windows we made in the ice. He had his paws around the hole, blocking the little sunlight that filtered through the daily gloom. He was hunting.
The holes were less than 1 meter square, and you could see him watching the parade of polar mammals below. I think we might have confused him a bit, so, feeling bad, we left a pile of beef bones and some cetacean table scraps from dinner out there for him.
He had tried to claw his way through one of our windows one night, must have seen a swimming seal, but the clear ice proved too much for the old fella. We set out some more leftover dinner offerings for him from then on.
We retrieved our shark rig and found it’d been cleaned off slicker than a hagfish in a bucketful of whale snot. We paid some local fishermen for two more seal carcasses; used one for bait and left one in an out of the way place for Old Blue.
The next day, we all arose kind of bright and sort of early to find our orange float had gone AWOL overnight. We shined our lights into the water, which we had to constantly skim and treat with powdered carbon to keep from freezing, but couldn’t see anything.
I figured a shark took the bait, the line had frozen to the float, and the shark just drifted down with it, so the float was out under the ice somewhere.
We powered up the winch and began to retrieve the whole fishing rig. Everything was going along smoothly until about the half-way point. It was a good thing we had that winch anchored in well, because something on the other end wasn’t terribly keen on being brought to the surface.
The winch groaned, spit a few sparks, and slowly ground away; gradually taking in meter after meter of line.
We all gathered around the ol’ fishin’ hole hoping to catch a glance at what we might have snagged. Killer whale? Greenland Shark? Old Soviet submarine? All bets were off.
It was a monster of a Greenland Shark. It was huge, fully 7.6 meters in length. The ichthyologist estimates its weight at well beyond 1,100 kilos.
He wanted it for samples and made certain we treated it gently. With their low metabolic rates, it was torpid, just swimming leisurely in our freshly constructed moon pool. We gently lassoed its tail and secured it to an ice-auger planted next to the hole. We gave it room to move and swim, just not escape.
Dr. Maður, the “Fish Guy”, was able to give it an injection of piscine sedative. It slowed down even further, enough for us to extract the hook from its lower jaw and secure another line around one of its pectoral fins. Sure, we annoyed the old boy, but it was going to remain healthy and unharmed until we released it later that day.
We rigged a tank of oxygen to an air hose and Dr. Maður expertly threaded it into the shark’s mouth, right to the gills, to keep it happily breathing while we took video, snapped pictures and he took his samples.
Skin samples, blood samples, and samples of the ubiquitous ocular parasites. He even went so far as to perform some surgery on the old guy and removed all the parasites and small sections of the shark’s crystallized-lenses.
He wanted to study the shark’s lens ‘crystallines’, a class of proteins found in the vertebrate eye. Like all organic molecules, crystallines contain carbon, including trace amounts of the radioactive isotope carbon-14. Unlike other proteins, which undergo constant recycling and replenishment, crystallines remain stable throughout an animal’s life; they are envelopes sealed at birth, their contents an artifact from the womb.
If crystallines are the envelopes, then carbon-14 is the postmark.
He hoped to radiocarbon-date these lenses and determine the absolute age of the animals.
This was not his first time collecting shark lens crystallines and his research was in a nascent form. It would take decades and much more study, but his research paved the way for dating these sharks and determining their individual ages.
His work determined that some of the larger sharks sampled were near 600 years old. They probably didn’t reach sexual maturity until age 150 or so, given their immensely slow metabolic rates. It was great to be involved, however tangentially, in this sort of discovery.
After 6 or so hours, the good doctor administered the sedative’s antidote and he stayed with the shark until he was certain it could continue along on its own. We cut it loose later that night and retired to our huts for a well-deserved rest.
The next morning, after breakfast, I’m standing outside having my morning wake-up cigar. We’re off to some rare inland outcrops and I’d definitely be needed to take some of these critical geological samples.
I look over to our ol’ fishin’ hole and see Old Blue just paddling around in the moon pool, obviously having the time of his life with the remains of our leftover seal shark bait in his own private Jacuzzi.
Many, many pictures were taken. Old Blue was now our official mascot. His likeness appears on the cover of the book of articles generated by these expeditions.
Into the Hueys and the smaller European helicopters. We’re off to the interior, to a nunatak, which is an isolated peak of rock projecting above a surface of inland ice or snow.
Yes, we geologists have a word for everything.
A couple hours later, we’re clambering around this outcrop of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rock. It’s a real poser, just what it is, and how it got here. It was in situ, meaning it hadn’t moved, rather the Greenland Ice Cap simply grew around it. It was the summit of a sub-ice mountain, the very peak of some massif of unknown size.
We set about first to try and determine the size of the block we were dealing with.
Geophones were set out in radial patterns away from the edifice. I went around with a gas-powered augur, drilling shot holes for the Seismogel explosives. I finally crapped out after shot hole 32 and turned the job over to Bjarke and anyone else who wanted to try.
We had a small Quonset shed set up as the recording booth, and had the seismic recorders, powered by a gasoline generator, all up and humming. I had Bjarke drill a series of shot holes linearly out and away from the hut, where I went and primed each with varying amounts of Seismogel.
We used a case and a half of red flags. We had set up a large shot field and we didn’t want anyone wandering about where they shouldn’t.
We decided to wait until after lunch to collect the seismic data. We settled in for cetacean sandwiches, Greenland coffee, and cigars. I’m glad I brought Tabasco.
After lunch, it was a quick task to determine the proper amount of Seismogel for each hole.
Surprisingly, it turned out that a single one 1-meter tube of the concoction yielded the best overall results. I told everyone the field was going hot and Bjarke and I went out setting, charging and priming the array.
The results were both simultaneously prosaic and spectacular. When detonated, you’d feel, rather than hear, a distant THUMP! No great geysers of ice, no great expanses of rapidly expanding gas. The ice was showing us just who was boss out here again.
However, we did record reels and reels and reels of clean, stacked, anti-aliased seismic data. Each shot pattern went off without a hitch, and the geophones worked splendidly. We finished the whole array in less than two hours; even with some repeat, calibration shots.
We then attacked the nunatak itself.
It was heavily fractured, but with the application of blasting caps and super boosters iced into place, we had obtained a wonderful set of reference samples. They didn’t shatter or blow all over creation. Just a few cute Pops! and hunks of rock would cascade down the edifice’s side. They were all marked pre-shot as to location, so even with the shot impulse, we knew exactly from where the samples had originated.
Over Greenland Coffee and cigars, we waited until our temporary camp was broken down and stowed aboard the aircraft. We then flew back to Base #2, collected our data and personal effects, and were ferried back to the University for a couple days in-town down time.
Esme had kicked the lab into high gear when we radioed in that we were on the way back to base. We deposited our samples and she with her associates processed them like a well-oiled machine.
We both skipped the communal whale, musk ox, and lamb dinner and instead opted for an early night in the hotel’s thermal pool. We returned to the room found a watchable movie on the box and were both snoring soundly before the initial credits finished rolling.
On our next day off, Esme and I decided to take in some local culture. The island features a number of museums, including the Greenland National Museum and Archives in Nuuk. These were all fascinating repositories of the history of the island and its people.
Esme again spent of large portion of Agents Rack and Ruin’s munificence on more Xmas ornaments. A few statues and figurines carved from soapstone, reindeer horn, muskox horn, whale baleen, and walrus tooth; as well as hats knitted from muskox wool.
We went that night to the Katuaq Cultural Centre, which was hosting a concert, composed of musicians from the local population. It was an odd assortment of contemporary hits, tribal chants, and eerily Russian sounding taiga-people songs.
Back in the hotel pool, Esme noted she was actually enjoying this scientific expedition business.
The next two trips out on the ice were geophysical in nature. I had collected immense amounts of coastal sedimentological samples, enough for another dissertation. I was now just another hired hand; out to blast ice, rocks, and move things out of the way that really would rather stay put.
I also spent time getting to know each and every other participant in these expeditions; remembering the requests from our sponsors: Agents Rack and Ruin. Those guys were relentless.
The folks with whom I’ve been bivouacking these last weeks were no more insurgents, foreign agents, or terrorists, any more than I was a ballet dancer.
Still, name goes in book. They were doing the same with me, one let slip.
Once it was all out in the open, we sat around expedition #4’s break-out campfire, with firewood specially choppered in, and made up lies for each other to report to our various handlers.
The drinks flowed, the cigars, pipes and cigarettes were all lit. Old Blue came nosing in for a looksee.
The rangers got all tense and immediately unholstered their weapons. They were shouted down by the entire scientific and support staff. We all spoke softly and pleasantly to Old Blue and invited him in.
Yeah, in retrospect, it was probably not a terribly good idea to befriend a huge, ursine carnivore. But, he just seemed to fit in so well with this motley crowd of old professors, bewhiskered newer instructors and other generally harmless academic scientific types.
Old Blue moved slowly, deliberately, and never as much as snarled at any of us.
The cook crew whipped up a dinner for Old Blue from our last feed and secreted it just outside our Quonset hut. Old Blue actually looked grateful as he devoured the leftover roast beef, filet of whale, Narwhal blubber, baked fish, and mutton chops.
He seemed especially partial to our Bounceberry-compote dessert and the cooks fed him three full pies.
After which, Old Blue looked at the gathered crowd, turned around three times on the old blanket we put outside for him, collapsed, and went into a sound, snoring, snuffling sleep.
He was there, bright and early the next morning. He didn’t care for Greenland Coffee, but loved frozen orange juice, smoked kippers, and breakfast biscuits.
We were late to the muster point to take us back to university as we were all posing with Old Blue for our polar portraits.
More data to the labs and I didn’t even see Esme until later that night at the hotel. She looked weary, and reported they were right on schedule, but she also related that she was glad the bulk of the data collection was over.
Only one last trip out on the ice to attack some growlers and bergy bits.
The geophysicists wanted more data and the Navy was interested in learning about what I had gathered in Antarctica blasting icy geomorphs. The novelty of all this was definitely beginning to wear a bit thin for the weary crowd.
However, we persevered.
Before we left on our last expedition, I made my final explosives request to the Royal Navy.
Along with the usual Primacord, blasting caps and super-boosters, demo wire, C-4 and Dynamite, I ordered thermite.
Lots and lots and lots of thermite.
I was definitely saving the best for last.
Now thermite isn’t an explosive, per se. It is simply a concoction of finely divided iron oxide, that is, rust, and even more finely divided aluminum powder. Although the reactants are stable at room temperature, they burn with an extremely intense exothermic reaction when they are excited to ignition temperature.
The combustion products emerge as liquids, iron (III) and aluminum, due to the high temperatures reached (up to 2500 °C with iron (III) oxide)—although the actual temperature reached depends on how quickly heat can escape to the surrounding environment.
Thermite contains its own supply of oxygen and does not require any external source of air. Consequently, it cannot be smothered. It burns well while wet, and cannot be extinguished with water. It is initiated with a magnesium ribbon or simple 4th of July sparkler-type initiator.
It is fun stuff around ice.
Esme and I spent the day before the final trek in the hotel. Most of it was spent either in the pool or bed. We were both grateful for the chance to catch up on some much needed sleep.
One doesn’t realize just how many calories they metabolize running around a climate such as this; and that it’s damned difficult, though fun, work.
I had a whole container of my special devices loaded aboard the Chinook for the trip out to the eastern coast, along Kong Christian Land. There were inlets, fjords, and anchorages along this part of the coast used for millennia by sailors. But they had all been bothered by the accumulation of floating sea ice.
I was there to see what I could do to alleviate this appalling situation.
The geophysicists were running around, laying out their geophones, setting up the recording shack in proximity to the beached growler or bergy bit. I was going to run through the gamut of my available pyrotechnics to allow them to compare and contrast the efficacy of each. Since we were on the coast, mostly semi-ice free, the ecologists and biologists were kept happy doing whatever they did for fun.
First up was venerable old Primacord. We held a spur-of-the-moment lottery to see who got to push the big shiny red button once Bjarke and I finished wiring up the various pieces offending grounded ice.
Dr. Gammaltjärn, the Swedish paleomagnetist, drew the long straw and won the right to operate the blasting machine.
Tootle x3. FIRE IN THE HOLE!
“HIT IT!”
A full spool of Primacord, wrapped around that growler, exploded with unmitigated 25,000 feet per second fury.
It blew off enough ice to make a couple of Revky cocktails.
Hmmm.
Next?
My old favorite, 60% Extra Fast Herculene dynamite.
One whole case of 40 sticks was set in, on, and around the griping growler.
The Finnish Ice mechanics geophysicist, Dr. Jäädynamiikka won the next draw. Grinning widely, he added Swedish to the English FIRE IN THE HOLE after the air horn tootlings.
“HIT IT!” I yelled.
There was a titanic blast, and give dynamite its due, we carved some pretty healthy chunks off that old growler. Upon inspection, the more mathematically inclined told us we shifted about 5% of the beast with all that firepower.
Now things were going to get serious.
I broke out the HELIX binary blasting agents. This was the most energetic stuff, by far, to which I had access.
We drilled 2-meter deep holes all over the recalcitrant piece of iceberg. I set, charged, primed, and backfilled some 50 kilos of the stuff.
“Move back all the warning flags!” I ordered.
“Further! This one’s going to be big.” I added.
We were all some 500 meters back of the grousing growler. It wasn’t happy with our machinations, I could tell.
Dr. Uchit'sya, the august Russian Specialist of the Artic Climates, won the right to push the shiny, big red button. With all that Primacord, blasting caps, and super-boosters out there to initiate all that HELIX, I hoped our little machine was up to the task.
We’ll find out.
Tootle x3. FIRE IN THE HOLE!
“HIT IT!”
It was.
I overran three of the eight recording channels in the geophysicist’s recording shack with reflection seismic data. The shock wave toppled many of our flags.
Ice rained down in huge chunks for full minutes and there was a nice little mushroom cloud headed heavenward.
The growler was still there, thinner, shapelier, but still with what was calculated over 60% of its original mass.
That was one expensive shot for a paltry 40% return.
Now, it was time to get really nasty.
I had Bjarke and his helpers drill nearly three dozen 1 meter-deep holes in the grumbling growler.
I had an equal number of what looked like terra-cotta ceramic flower pots, with their bottom drain holes plugged with wax, each filled with 5 kilos of energetic thermite.
After the holes were drilled, I instructed Bjarke and his helpers to set one flower pot above each one of the holes they’d just drilled.
It was an electrician’s wet dream wiring up the thermite and the magnesium actuators.
I went through 3 full spools of demo wire and had to borrow a calculator from one of the geophysicists to see if the blasting machine had enough electrical oomph to initiate them all simultaneously.
Barely, but just so.
Dr. Sermone, the native Greenland son Polar Biologist won the final draw.
We could have ventured a bit closer, but on the other hand, I wasn’t absolutely certain how the ice would react to all this thermite. The thermal shock was going to be on the order of thousands of degrees and ice doesn’t react well to that type of gradient.
Oh, well. Let’s just see…
Tootle x3. FIRE IN THE HOLE!
“HIT IT!”
PFffsssssttttttt! Orange smoke rose skyward.
The magnesium actuators all sparked off right on cue. They were timed to burn exactly 30 seconds before igniting the thermite.
We all stood there, watching, and waiting with rapt attention.
And waited.
And waited.
Suddenly, it was as if a volcano appeared.
All the thermite touched off within mere seconds of each other. The wax plugs at the base of the pots melted almost immediately and let through streams of molten iron and aluminum into the very bowels of the ice.
The HELIX was an incredible blast, this was orders of magnitude greater.
The growler disintegrated into billions of icy-hot shards and they rained over an area of approximately 400 square meters.
We seemed to have stumbled onto something here.
Several more thermite experiments confirmed its efficacy in removing grounded growlers and beached bergy bits.
And with that data collected and collated, the field excursion was over.
We were loading our transport to head back to university. Out of the south, Old Blue came loping over, mooching around for a handout.
Since we were in the process of leaving, there were several foolhardy and potentially dangerous final photo sessions with Old Blue. He didn’t give a shit one way or the other. He had his free lunch, and for the cost of a few photo opportunities, he was one happy, well nourished, and accommodating ursine.
I will miss him.
We all did.
Back at university, we offloaded the last of the data. Esme and her minions had it collated and in the pipeline before we had completed our various inventories. I worked long and hard on the explosives manifests and other necessary volumes of paperwork.
Esme and I went back to the hotel for our penultimate night on the island.
Tomorrow night, before everyone scattered to the four winds, there would be a blowout of heroic proportions. That is, a celebratory dinner, with songs, tales and stories of our time in Greenland. Everyone, and I mean everyone, associated with the expedition was invited.
Our mineral and oil company sponsors were footing the bill.
It was going to be epic.
Esme and I packed for travel what gear we could and laid out our clothes for the next evening’s festivities.
She was going decked out in a native Greenlander costume she had purchased from the museum. She modeled it for me that night. She looked entrancing. Unfortunate she couldn’t find any native-style shoes that would fit, she had to opt instead for field boots.
I never let her live that down.
I spiffed up my Stetson, found my cleanest pair of chino cargo shorts, best calf-length woolen socks, Neat’s-foot oiled my leather field boots to a high luster and found the most god-awful, loud, and polychromatic Hawaiian shirt I had.
Esme just clucked a bit and shook her head.
I also polished up my main emergency flask of Old Thought Provoker, just in case. I also found my previously lost leather cigar case. I filled it in anticipation.
We were going in, dressed to kill.
After breakfast the next morning and a brief lounge in the hotel‘s geothermal pool, we sauntered over to the university for the last of the meetings and to shepherd all the data to the places where it belonged.
We spent the bulk of the day faffing around the university, chatting with various participants, locals, and associates. It was an enormously congenial bunch of folks. There wasn’t a single cross word or grumpy denunciation during the entire escapade. We all got along, all of us, from our 12 different countries, united by science and the search for more knowledge.
Back in the hotel, after another soothing swim, we decided to grab a quick 40 winks before the evening’s festivities. Good think the hotel wake-up service was persistent. After all the exercise over the past 5 weeks, the trundling around on the ice, the soothing hotel pool, and the high calorie diet, we were out like proverbial lights.
However, we finally groggily arose and dressed.
Esme was ravishing in her new outfit. I was just goofy looking, as usual.
We had transport to the University and departed our cab to a lavishly decorated gymnasium; with decorated tables, a stage, a podium, local music, and a huge open bar.
Epic, did I say?
There was back slapping, tales of the ice, stories from universities, and the data laboratories, drinking from the open bar, and finally, a lavish dinner of local delicacies.
There were the ubiquitous whale steaks, and Narwhal blubber. However, there were also beef steaks, turkey and lamb for those would had their fill of seal, fish, and cetacean.
After the opulent dinner, Dr. Jäämägi made his penultimate address to the crowd.
It was impassioned, interesting, and hilarious. He told tales of friendly bears, huge gently-handled sharks, and more explosions than he’d heard in his lifetime.
The Brennivín flowed like artesian spring water.
He invited everyone up to the podium to say a few words. Many did, some demurred. It was all good, nothing was going to derail the conviviality of the moment. There were toasts by each and every participant, all with the usual bottoms-up of tumblers full of Brennivín.
After all the speakers had their say, the band struck up the national anthem of Greenland.
The cooks then wheeled out dessert.
It was a huge cake in the shape of a polar bear. One with a blue food-coloring splotch on its hindquarters.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.
Old Blue tasted great. Chocolate-seaweed with coconut-vanilla icing. It was quite the achievement, it was so damn real looking one almost regretted having a slice.
Once again, Dr. Jäämägi had taken the podium for a final say and made sure everyone was in receipt of the expedition’s first report. It contained all our contact information and he asked each of us to ensure it was all correct.
With that, the dinner devolved into a large drinking and chatting session.
Brennivín, Black Death, and Revky vodka flowed like spring rain. Everyone was enjoying everything in massive quantities.
Alliances and friendships were made, and oaths of visits and return visits were made as well.
Finally, around 0200, it was announced the local cabs would be shutting down soon for the night. So if you wanted transport to the hotel, best shake a leg or end up hoofing it back.
Esme and I collapsed into bed around 0330. We were all too keyed up to sleep. Our flight out to Germany wasn’t until 1800 the next day. We did leave a wakeup call, though. It proved to be a good idea when it came at the crack of noon the next day.
Esme and I bundled our gear and luggage down to the lobby, checked out, and ordered a cab for transport to the airport. We left healthy tips for all the hotel staff that served us so well during our stay. We vowed to one day return.
At the airport, we had to hunt down an officer to stamp our passports so we could not only leave Greenland, but get into Germany. We found our airline, obtained our tickets, boarding passes, and deposited our luggage.
In the lounge, we reminisced a bit over the trip. Esme said if they’re all this much fun, she wanted to come with me every time. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that this was probably a one-off (it wasn’t).
Some of the places I was destined to go were either very primitive or active war zones.
But that’s for another day.
We arrive in Berlin Tegel airport, and gather our luggage. We hire a car to drive to Treuenbrietzen, the small village home of Esme’s European family.
Bahn, Bahn, Bahn, on the Autobahn…
We are warmly welcomed and after all the introductions, we’re just time for dinner. A lavish spread of stout Germanic delicacies had been produced for our arrival.
Even though I was looking forward to it, Esme went a bit green when Grossmuter produces a bottle of Brennivín, and proposes some healthy toasts for the hearty Greenland explorers.
*P.S. Dr. Jäämägi’s initial joke goes as follows:
A comely young lass walks into a local tavern and orders 12 shots of Brennivín. The barkeep says “OK” and sets them up. She downs them one after another, and passes out colder than a mackerel.
The local bar patrons look at her lying on the floor. They don’t know what to do. Until Sven Yorgenson says, “She’s out cold. If we take her in the back room and have our way with her, she’ll be none the wiser.”
They agree, and have their sordid ways with her. They find her address in her purse, call a cab, pour her into the vehicle, and send her on her way.
The next night, she shows up again and orders another 12 shots of Brennivín. The barkeep says “OK” and sets them up. She downs them one after another, and passes out colder than a mackerel.
The bar patrons relive the aforementioned night’s nastiness and send her on her way once again.
The next night, she shows up yet again.
The barkeep smiles and asks her: “Your usual 12 shots of Brennivín?”
She replies, “No. Tonight I want 12 shots of Revky Vodka. That Brennivín makes my pussy hurt.”
FIN
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My big fat cancelling critique

[Info]
Hear ye, Hear ye, Contrapoints stans, fans, casual consumers and detractors all, I present to you a more full critique of the video "Cancelling" than I have ever published before.
Links:
[I'm nobody's stan -- a preamble]
While I was slowly re-watching the video and writing this critique, I got accused by a Contra-stan of being an EssenceOfThought-stan. And also a lying, disingenuous piece of shit. It was in a thread that talked about this really toxic atmosphere brewing on /breadtube and /contrapoints in which anybody who makes a video about Natalie is magically responsible for a new campaign of harassment. And this has spread to Natalie's defenders. People are saying that EoT personally mounted a harassment campaign against PigPuncher (now xanderhal, @xanderhaltv) and got him mass reported off twitter. And it just doesn't ring true to me, nonetheleast b/c xanderhal said himself that the alt-right has mass reported and swatted him in waves for the last couple years.
It's a real problem that there are stans who think everybody is either a stan or a nobody right now. Look, I'm not an EoT stan, even though I'm citing two of their videos in this critique. I have made some firm criticisms of his first video, read my profile for yourselves. When I received and posted Chrisiousity's video, EoT dropped a third drama-bomb of a video and I started to watch it. I stopped after 8 minutes because I already found EoT making one big mistake, and one really shitty line.
First, EoT says that Natalie is only talking about post-Opulence backlash, and thus accuses her of lying about a timeline on some tweets. They're just wrong.
Second, EoT says "Natalie has a fragile ego."
In the very least, this line is hack. Everybody's ego is fragile. That's freshment psychology 101, it's how egos are, it's a feature. It's just saying somebody is being too fragile, and that's an attack on character.
Second, it's fucking mean. It's mean in a general sense. And it's mean in a more personal sense, and I'll tell you why.
I'll mention this later, but I was what I call a first-generation youtube skeptic/atheist. Youtube was founded in 2006, and by 2008, peaking around 2010, we had a thriving group of what the media would call "New Atheists" on youtube. I can drop you a huge list of names, and it's still at most 20% of what was out there. I never made a single video, though I did have a webcam for a short while and regularly hanged out in Stickam with a dozen members of the Rational Response Squad. At first I fell for Pat Condell's shit. I was a big fan of Thunderf00t until his feud with DawahFilms. I apologize to the world. Sincerely. Look, what I want you to take from this is that I've come to be seen as redeemed by many feminists on reddit and beyond, and I think that Natalie is even more redeemable than I. I'm not trying to be a hater. This is constructive criticism.
But also back then, there was Natalie. Under a different channel whose title contains her deadname. I've linked to three different videos on parasocial relationships. Lemme tell you, I've been through 'em. Some that have had intense influence on my daily life, many others not so much. Natalie was, until she started Contrapoints, somewhere in the middle.
From what I've seen over the last 10 years, Natalie has every reason to be sensitive. Fragile, even. I've seen Natalie make meatspace friends with a few of these fellow atheist/skeptics, and they traveled and dined and chilled with one another. They even pulled a couple New Atheist stunts that backfired. Even contributed to a musical collab, which is still funny.
I've seen the community fragment and bubble and burst and burn and mutate. Basically I've watched Natalie lose friends and get hurt, as with many others. And with 10 years of experience, I can look back at old videos where Natalie's old self can be found, and see the unhappiness that she's described.
EssenceOfThought pulling the "fragile ego" line is frankly toxic. EoT only has 2 years of very hard work to look at, and 2 years of public transformation and transition. And EoT seems to assume that the quality of work a youtuber puts out is porportional to how head-above-water they are when it comes to stress levels and strength of will, and wealth of support. And that's wrong.
It's callous. You can't just assume things about people's accumulated life trauma. Calling people fragile as an insult, I've come to find, is morally wrong, because it calls that we celebrate stoic strength as a virtue. And it's always punching down. Every time it's punching down. Looking at somebody who's feeling vulnerable, and going "gross, you're vulnerable!" And EoT has done this despite listening to Natalie talking about a lack of friends in the world. I can't actually name many meatspace acquaintences of hers, much less good friends, besides {Theryn, Olly, Lindsay Ellis, Jenny Nicholson, other people in the few photos with Lindsay and Jenny maybe, Riley and Fiona, Chelsea Manning, Dan Olson, innuendostudios, hbomb...}. Can you? And how long distance most of those are! Almost all of them are expensive-distance. It sucks.
I stopped watching EoT's third video shortly after 8 minutes when they said that, becuase I was just disgusted. And as I said in Chrisiousity's comment section, it looks like a sign to me that in EoT's focus on Natalie the past month, Natalie has evolved in their mind from a popular creator with a specific and powerfully effective flaw, to an outright Adversary, capital-A included. And that's sad. It's the wrong way to go. In early drafts, I refrenced the first two videos because there's a lot of good points made in them. But EoT grows more combative over time and by the third video steps out of line.
So no, I'm not a stan for EssenceOfThought, and I'm not a hater of Natalie Wynn. I've even removed all but one future reference to them from this critique (if I got my editing correct). Even though you'll find that some of the faults I find with the video are the same or similar to EoT's video(s), I don't attribute malice to the flaws as EoT does, now that I've looked back at it. In fact, I'm cancelling my subscription to EssenceOfThought on that alone. It's that gross. Natalie's one overriding flaw is so common and comes from such a human place of vulnerability, I just cannot stand to any further advocate somebody's who's making her such a devil. Shit on Buck angel all you want, EoT, but Natalie is not out to be the monster that jumps out of the closet to bite at enbys. If EoT could re-make his Buck Angel video so as to leave Natalie out of it, that'd be good. As it is though... yeargh.
I still don't think EoT is leading report/harassment brigades. I think the brigaders just love EoT incidentally. EoT is boosting them, but not leading them. But that's enough.
I'm just a dude who thinks this one video, Cancelling, and the cameo in Opulence, did way more harm than she thinks. Than you think. And I think she's capable of coming to understand it, and so are you.
[Reese's Theses]
I have to agree with Chrisiousity and say that when you're doing an essay, written or video, when you're making a case, an argument, you need to leave hyperbole out of the thesis. The entire introduction, even. At least the paragraph the thesis resides in. Because what you're doing is priming.
Hyperbole is lacking in clarity. You're inviting bad interpretations and you create claims you don't know you're making when you do that. It says things whether you intend to or not. Stop it. Everybody stop it.
On the guillotine metaphor specifically: I don't think Natalie meant that cancel culture is like the guillotine in that we are meaning to murder people. All she wanted to point out was the similarity in which a tool for justice became corrupted by people who want to use it purely for the spectacle (trolling) or people who come to believe in a great expansion of enumerable crimes that deserve the max punishment (improper discretization). Natalie could've used a different punishment for the juxtaposition. Prison could serve, as cancelling is nominally a form of isolation. Or perhaps a pillory? But then again, in her defense: with the example of August Ames, Cancelling has lead to death. Or at least hastened it?
Nobody's going to be satisfied with any kind of metaphor in this case because "cancel culture" is decentralized and leaderless. If it had centralization and a written manifesto, we would be better able to describe what she's talking about in existing language : "mission drift." This is a phrase that does exist in activist lexicon. Originally intended to apply to evangelical missionaries (hence the name), I've seen an amibiguated version applied to many other kinds of activism.
This is just what happens when you work without an editor and you drink while making a video. It's not that bad.
[When is cancel culture not cancel culture? When it's ajar!]
I disagree with the claim that cancel culture sprang from "Black Twitter." Though obviously it is a re-branding of "call-out culture." Frankly I don't see anything that hasn't happened before the internet and basically any boycott in American history.
Search for callout culture on any specific social justice subreddit, search it on twitter, search all reddit or just google it... raise your hand if you never heard the word "cancel culture" until a right-wing pseudo-centrist grifter was making strawmen of it (including Obama) like it's the end of the world? I remember lots talk about call-out culture before. How black is it? Did it really come from black twitter? It makese sense that it came more from women. But specifically black women? We need help verifying this.
[James Charles pt. I: Tati]
In Tati's full video, she gives more details than simply the claim, "James Charles tries to trick straight men into thinking they're gay" (with secondary implied extension, "to trick them into sex of dubious consent"):
Natatlie's short little list does mention that cancel-crowds abstract away details, but the fact is Natalie presents the case without the details herself. She makes it seem like Tati never presents these details and that the backlash against James Charles was mostly devoid of said details. Natalie says that the only appropriate claim would read, "Tati accuses Charles of 'trying to trick straight men into thinking they're gay.'"
I think we can see that Natalie is in fact omitting details herself. And that's wrong.
It may be true that every wave of backlash, whether it be black-twitter-specific "cancel culture" or generic backlashes for all kinds of beginnings, will have a dishearteningly-large proportion of people who have joined it only for the spectacle and will not bother with the details. But Natalie has presented us with the following argument.
  1. Tati never used the words "sexual predator."
  2. Cancellers are using the words "sexual predator."
  3. Therefore, the backlash against James Charles is necessarily vacuous, and
  4. It is simply Tati wanting to eliminate a competitor.
The case of, "People have heard details that they believe are aptly summed by the words 'sexual predator'" has been dismissed out of hand, out of sight, and out of mind. That's wrong.
As for the phenomenon of the outrage itself, there are many possible dots to connect into a coherent or incoherent narrative map of weighted segments, to tell what has happened This could be a little bad I admit, but let's lump the dots into starting points and end points. First, the starting points:
And then the endpoints, categories of cancellers that:
I say every line you draw from a starting point to an endpoint is a valid hypothesis to test, and some of them can exist simultaneously because the outrage was not monolithic. And it's simply up to yourself, reader, to ascribe percentages to each line until you think you've accounted for the whole picture. That would be an honest description. And it's not what Natalie's done.
There is a bit of ambiguity in Tati's video. What does it mean to "behave sexually in [your] favor," when she speaks to James? Does she mean that these men "performed sexual favors," as the euphemism goes, meaning they performed sexual acts with james, including things such as petting, kissing, handjobs, blowjobs, receiving or giving anal penetration, rimming, etc? Or does it mean dressing and behaving flirtatiously in a very explicit manner? The list is full of assault and rape. The other option is not. And we have to ask ourselves: would or wouldn't Tati use the word "rape"? Is Tati too flustered from the extemperaneous speaking to remember or not? But that's still besides the point, it's not specifically what's wrong or right with Natalie's video and claims.
Next up on what shouldn't have been done: Nat compares two sentences, and claims that they are contradictory.
Because the first is something James' behavior, and the second is his character. Look, let's cut the bullshit, folks. Whether or not one succeeds in their attempt to abuse somebody does not have bearing on the fact that what they are doing is toxic and manipulative. This entire part of the video was bullshit. These actions do make one a bad person. This is just how the words 'toxic' and 'manipulative' fucking work. That's how using adjectives works.
When you listen to a radio personality describe a wolf failing to catch a deer this one time, do we stop describing the wolf as a predator? Was it not trying to catch prey just b/c it didn't succeed? Do we even need to hear the word "wolf" to know we're talking about a predator? Obviously, no. We know what hunting prey looks like. We can tell when two animals surprise and attack each other vs when a predator stalks and attacks.
Fuck's sake, y'all. If I swing at you and miss, do people get to say I wasn't violent towards you?! Would somebody that witnessed this happen often be wrong in describing me as violent? That's the shit you're doing with the James Charles thing!
Contrary to what Natalie says, this is not essentialism in action. An argument from essentialism would go the other way. It would begin with the belief that James Charles is a sexual predator, and then it would pick something he "would do," and transform the "would" into a "did." That is how essentialism works, and why it is problematic.
And no doubt, because so many people join outrage for the spectacle of it, b/c they just listen uncritically when dopamine says "go," there are some who went that route. But Natalie presents essentialist argumentation backwards (at this point), and gives the idea that essentialism is all we've got. Neither are correct.
Finally, Natalie brings up that we have the phrase "believe the victim" these days, and presents the James Charles cancelling as a case about why that idea is dangerous. But there's the thing: we're not talking about a backlash that was believing victims. What's been presented is cancellers believing a witness. Natalie has made the error -- and encouraged her audience to do so as well -- of disbelieving a witness and following from that, disbelieving plaintiffs (the victims) before hearing from them; in the very least, dismissing their part in the directino the outrage took, wrongfully describing the outraged as having only heard from Tati. Do I really need to explain how dangerous and unethical that is? Seems like maybe we need to have that discussion, too, by the way y'all are defending every second of this video no matter what. I mean seriously: if I had not linked to Carmie Sellitto above, would any of you stans know who he is? I just do not see a lot of you stans quoting the alleged victims and making a case of James's innocence from that. No, you just go with "I don't like the way twitterers sounded, so Tati must be lying and James is innocent." That is not good epistemology, and it's not a good way of systemic justice reform.
[James Charles pt. II]
Natalie goes on to discuss twitters that react to the un-cancellers by pointing out that they still think that JC is a racist transphobe.
First there's the issue that some of these people maybe are the type who never heard of JC before Tati's video, and have retroactively heard talk of JC saying transphobic and racist things. But I really think if one is to make the case that this is the default for people calling JC "transphobe" and "racist," that has to be shown, and not just claimed. And I think that Natalie has attributed this behavior to essentialism, when really it's at worst people who don't want to research properly.
What we're talking about here is improper discretization, or stratification, when it comes to determining when we say a person "is a transphobe" vs "has ignorant views about trans people, gender, and sexuality." There does need to be a distinction between a person who's preoccupied with their bigotry and pontificates on it by compulsion, vs a young person speaking ignorantly, albeit earnestly. If you want to name discrete steps on the journey from innocence and ignorance to full blown x-phobe, you need a lot more steps than what we're commonly presented with, which is rarely more than two. So what Natalie says 14:30 to 17:22 is good.
And she gets essentialism right this time. This is how essentialism is built. Manly men are manly, x-phobic example x-phobe full time. People start to affirm their bias by making an essentialist extrapolation and justifying it backwards. Not quite the same as what happened above in my review here. This is, "oh he's a transhpobe? So of course he said transphobic things, what else can you expect?" And that attitude leads to reading any other honestly ignorant statement being seen as just super hardcore fetishized bigotry Y bubbling to the surface. That is the essentialism that really does lead to trope 5. He's essentially this, so he's also essentially that. Nat nails this one.
BUT
[Fucking Ebola]
The ebola joke isn't "the same vague conceptual area as certain racist tropes." It is flat out a racist trope. Anybody remember "Ugandan Knuckles?" Yeah. The people who loved that shit also didn't give one shit that tongue-clicking languages in Africa didn't come near Uganda. There are other viruses one could associate with Africa that are much more wide spread and common, such as Malaria, and afflictions such Dysentery, but no.
The ebola joke is itself a very clear example of racist essentialism. Because for the joke to work, all of the continent of Africa is Africa, wink-wink. Like, all the different countries in it and how big it is... too-long-didn't-read. It's all the same. That's what's required for the joke to work. And it went exactly how Natalie describes it: to the most extreme example.
I really thought this is something Natalie would know better about given her wonderful video "America: Still Racist." And I sure as hell hope she's getting it by now, what with people whose heritage comes from all over the continent of Asia being attacked as suspects of coronavirus.
Even in JC's apology, he's just "traveling to Africa." Fucking where in Africa, JC?! This is definitely something you should be able to handle before you jump on the plane. The very same racist essentialism the joke is based on is still the same racist essentialism his apology stands on.
But sometimes call-out culture doesn't get it. I can't find any news stories that give a shit about thinking the whole continent of Africa is one country. Statistically 0 people so far have mentioned it, in my experience. And things like that are why I don't think cancel culture came from Black Twitter.
Again let me point out: "Two years ago James made a joke that referenes his fear of getting ebola in Africa" "James made a racist joke" is not abstraction. It's summary. Er... Natalie doesn't use "abstraction" the same way I ever would.
[Connecting dots: a challenger appears]
19:44 Natalie rightfully acknowledges (and is very knowledgeable about!) wolves in SJW clothing "signal-boosting" call-outs if it's against a minority person. But I think this should've been mentioned much sooner. It's really contradictory to what Natalie presented as the bulk of call-outs against JC. Suddenly there's a bit of nuance, where before there was not.
[Buck Angel]
Just read Buck Angel's twitter feed to see what a total shithouse he is. Besties with Graham Linehan and Blaire white, demanding the enby community answer for a single sex offender (Rain Dove) and accusing the whole enby community of idolizing them, all kinds of heinous shit. He's totally truscum, and the stans' defense is just inexcusable.
Why do I think Natalie keeps defending Buck when she shouldn't? The same reason stans are doing it for her: "Not my Nigel!" see link above. We all have been guilty of it and will be guilty of it for something in the future. Including me. As I said in preamble, I was a first generation atheist/skeptic youtube shitbird. Trust me. I know it when I see it. Nobody wants to believe their friend is that problematic. We all have some sort of parasocial relationship. Read links above. This is the one overriding flaw I mentioned.
But on EoT's second video, I did leave the following comment, which explains how I used to agree with Natalie more on the subject than I do now:
I've failed to understand how some of Natalie's work has harmed NB people. Mostly I've restricted my view to whether or not Natalie directly said something about NB people or the NB category. But that's not right.
A problem occurs in "The Aesthetic", in two parts. First, because it does seem like Justine wins the debate. I didn't see it that way, I just saw it as she had more to say, because that position takes longer to explain than "if we say we are then we are." But I had really forgotten something. In cinematic language, in movies, tv, the debate sphere and youtube all alike, "winning" in a debate is when you overpower your opponent. When you get to finally do your Finishing Move, the long-winded tirade that makes your adversary sit down and shut up.
It's not just Ben Shapiro that does this, it's not just the alt right and the grifters. It's often this way for lefists, too. Pwning republicans and religious zealots alike. Dan points this out in his "alt right playbook" series, Never Play Defense, 6:50 -- the clip from that tv show (West Wing) where the U.S. president makes the fundamentalist lady sit down and shut up, defeated. We like to think we don't think we see winning the way Shapiro does, when you make somebody do a 'wtf' o-face and hesitate, but often we do. more than often enough.
So, meaning to or not, Natalie had Justine do her Finishing Move and win the debate. I don't think that's winning a debate, I eventually grew out of that attitude and have not appreciated it in some time. But I let myself forget that in the real world, that's what counts for winning in people's minds, and it's very much in the cinematic language.
Part 2 is exactly like you explain, EoT, and sadly I didn't think of it. People who think that gender is performative do consistently misname, misgender, and passive/active-agressively disregard the feelings of NB people because they "don't act like the gender they claim to be, or "act like the gender they say they aren't." Performativity is, in real life, a weapon used against NB people. Binary trans people too, but it kind of never stops for NB people. It's worse.
But does that make Justine a transmedicalist? Well, no. But I'm willing to bet now that there were many more people, a greater proportion, who did not say that Justine was transmedicalist. Rather there were probably more people who said that by having the performativity advocate win the debate, Natalie glorified the most common weapon used against NB people. And when Natalie, in "Cancelling," makes it seem like the former claim is the primary or only claim, she was again either egregiously lazy in her research or outright lying. Definitely disingenuous, and definitely continuing the harm.
This even extends to Buck Angel and his attacks on his ex. Let's draw a venn diagram! Maybe not all performative theorists are trans medicalists. But all trans medicalists use it to attack NB people. And when NB people get undue skepticism thrown at them it's often in the form of "but you don't dress like the gender you say you are," which is basically to say, "So you're crossdressing? Weirdo!" So despite what I said in a reddit thread, it's pretty reasonable to extrapolate that from Buck's current truscummery, that attack too was enbyphobic.
Hey, third edit, here's some more: Maybe we should also consider three more things:
(1) that there are plenty of NB people who've never experienced an instance of being described as a crossdresser from somebody who wasn't pushing performative-theory, and
(2) What if there are more people who identify as NB who crossdress, than those who crossdress but don't.
(3) Shitty attacks on crossdressing or "incorrect performance" by default harm more NB people than not.
Dear enbys,
I formally apologize for not getting it, and for also causing harm by defending it in a couple /contrapoints threads. I will try to be better.
[Slurs Are Still Gross]
Please let's not accept "cunty" into our lexicon. Even in supposed jest like this. Ugh. It feels like this will be used unironically in the future and I don't look forward to it happily.
[I think, therefore I tran]
After she stops that, it suddenly gets good. Like, snap of the finger.
I just dealt with The Aesthetic in that youtube comment, incidentally. The video did something truly by accident in the way that I said, and it's forgivable. It's perfectly redeemable, and so is Natalie. I'm 90% with Natalie on this one. She forgot one thing about media language. Her haters forgot most things about media language.
Natalie grew out of the first tweet she apologizes for. That's awesome. She doesn't need to apologize for it, IMO, and she doesn't. Ring that bell, gorge.
[Boymode gals]
Natalie is correct that the tweet is out of context. It was part of a conversation, a narrative in which Natalie was surprised in her early exploration that some trans people not only do not dress androgynously or conventionally aligned with their self-identified pronouns, but can often have styles that seem coded entirely the other direction. Natalie is describing the experience of becoming aware of the error. The haters have completely misunderstood this.
The context was about generational differences in trans expression. What you haters need to understand is that people of Natalie's age (my age) have experienced harsher and more prevalent social attacks on trans identities, with less to none of the out reach that younger people have had access to in the 2010's. It was a lonelier experience with much less exploration and expression allowed, and it really does create different trauma and thought processes.
People are built different. Not just from the womb, but from the environment in which they grew up. Respect the build.
DING, motherfuckers.
[Leftist discord servers in spaaaaace!]
^ That's a Muppets reference. See how we're a different generation?
Good apology. noice. But not perfect. Gosh. We've listened to politicians faux-pologize for so long we aren't aware we're emulating them. Leave out the "if you felt trivialized by it" part, Natalie. They're triviliazed by it whether they're aware of the video or not.
*Less enthusiastic ding.*
[Pronoun Rodeo]
This tweet was perfectly fine. Even when one misunderstands the sarcasm and thinks Natalie was way more angry than she actually was. Pronoun circles are an adaptation to awareness of the false cis/binary hegemony. And adaptation comes with a cost. And it's fine to gripe at a skin rash. She said nothing wrong.
[Last of the Old-School Transsexuals]
I said before that I myself couldn't make sense of this line. But now I can see it's referencing the same thread from the girl-in-boymode tweet. Only she didn't really connect it to that other thread in any way, so the connective tissue is completely absent. It's only visible now because Natalie happened to juxtapose them in two contiguous video segments. I don't think she should apologize for this one.
[♪ Maybe it was me who was fucking up ♫ - "Hurt" - Oliver Tree]
53:40 -ish. "Maybe tomorrow he [Buck] will say fuck nonbinary people, and I'll have fucked up."
Well, he has gone on to practically french kiss Graham Linehan on twitter, loves Blaire White, and as I pointed out in another /contrapointsdrama thread, demanded that the enby community answer for a supposed enby icon doing a bad thing once in his young past, which is a great big trio of middle fingers to nonbinary folk.
[The Soy Luck Club]
I'll just copypaste much of what I said before about the vidcon 2017 events, but add a little too:
Natalie, there's something I really want to get through to your brain, and it just hasn't happened yet. Know that "nice to me IRL they're not problematic on a level worth confronting" fallacy I mentioned above? The alt-right shitlords don't reciprocate it, at least not in the same way. They just increase their own self worth and validation. If you're nice to them IRL, for any reason, they will only concede in some amount to something very specific that personally made you upset on that day on that brunch. But then they escalate everything else because you became "one of the good ones," and they get to have their extra recruitment ammo of "see? some lefty loves me! the others are just haters and their evidence made up!". and that's just what they've done if they managed to keep up a regularly active youtube channel.
please. stop. feeding. that. beast. That brunch is regrettable. A confrontational livestream is one thing. The brunch is another.
I don't know why you are so unaware, Natalie. you validated their harassment during the harassment. Their presence at vidcon, every single second of it, was harassment, and you sat with the figurative dog-whistling wolves in their zoot suits and chummed it up . And you have never bothered to listen to this fact. "because they were nice to me IRL."
* (The above imagery is derived from old cartoons the youngest here probably haven't seen.)
sargon, armoredskeptic, shoe0nhead, chris raygun, etc all, in total more than a dozen, went to they could occupy blocks of chairs so that Anita Sarkeesian couldn't ignore their presence. That's what Anita was reacting to when she referred to sargon as a "garbage human" in a live panel.
Even during the brunch, they sat together so as to create a space that Anita couldn't also occupy (or avoid seeing), to keep her out of the dining area, because everything she says and does can and will be used against her in the court of alt-right law. They travel in groups to any panel she's in or wants to watch so that they can't be ignored and make Anita upset about what new youtube/twitter harassment onslaught is about to be faced not only by her, but anybody she positively associates with at the con. And you joined them. You couldn't see through it. You bought the "nice to you irl" bait, and you harassed Anita Sarkeesian. There, that's the reality of it, why I'm still bringing this up myself after 2 years. You may have been unaware of it at the time, but you were harassing Anita Sarkeesian. It's not. ok. I just do not want for you to bring up that brunch and not be confronted about it.
Just so you readers out there understand why Natalie even mentioned Laci Green, why people have compared Natalie and Laci: it's because Laci started dating Chris Raygun, accepted a shitty fake apology from SargonOfAkkad, and changed her mind on all trans issues, and this all happened at that same vidcon.
[The Theryn Parsons Project]
Get it? Because it's Theryn, and Alan Parsons Project, the band? Fuck you, I'm funny!
Has anybody watched Shoe0nHead the last 2 years? Fuck no, she didn't evolve as a better person. Even now that she's trying to pander to the left on her "brainlet" channel, she's still a turd. And "Brainlet" is a 4chan meme. She's just grifting still. There are plenty of breadtube members who fall for this, too.
[Twitter, the clogged shitter]
Do any of these twitters understand what the difference is between grift and just asking for compensation for hard work? Doesn't seem like it.
Yes it's still a huge deal that Natalie doesn't want to see Buck for what he is. But clearly , contrary to what many alt-right concern trolls would have us believe about their baby bigots, Natalie really is a person for whom honey attracts more cooperation than vinegar. We really could've sat down with Natalie and demonstrated what's wrong with Buck Angel in a civilized manner. But instead yer jumping to this 'grifer', 'terf' & 'truscum' charges and stuff? No wonder Natalie identifies with James Charles (outside of the intern abuse). Y'all jumped straight from "She's made a mistake" to "Contrapoints is the devil, Bobby Boucher!" with no point in between.
And no wonder she wants to avoid looking into it as long as possible - giving this type of twitter an inch yields a mile more bullshit abuse. Y'all aren't just cutting your cord -- you're making a cat-and-nine-tails and whipping mutaneers.
Lindsay Ellis went into a hospital to deal with the abuse people were giving her before Opulence. And this is how you deal with her being associated with Natalie? This isn't cancelling. This is witch hunting.
What I'm doing here is legitimate critique. What twitter is doing is not.
People who do activism on Twitter inevitably turn into reactionary shitheads. We should ALL quit Twitter. I've been through this with the first-generation youtube atheists/skeptics, too! I watched at least three sub-communities crumble because they couldn't correctly put together twitter timelines, soundbites, DMs, and private facebook groups into coherent narratives, and they all drove themselves into extinction. Which I'm sure Natalie may have also watched glumly, and I don't blame her for not wanting to live through that multiple times.
1:12:10
And likewise, when a mob is at my doorstep demanding I condemn Buck Angel to save myself from Cancellation... No!
That's just it, isn't it? Y'all could just cancel your subscription, announce why, convince others to, and move on. You can make videos all about Buck Angel, that don't witch hunt any of his followers, and present it casually all over the internet until it works. If you successfully succeed in canceling her, she loses all her money, she stops making the videos, and you can move on. But you don't do that. You come to her over and over, with your carrot and stick, and demand she dance. You're not acting like she's a person in power who needs a strong public response. You're showing that you have the power and want to use it not for public good but for personal gratification. This is indeed how a mob behaves. But y'all think you're marching on Washington.
I've checked. There have never, ever been so many videos or tweets made in anger about Buck Angel until Opulence. There is no reason to make it seem like association with Natalie Wynn is inflating his influence to such a dangerous level as to warrant this. If Buck was so goddamn bad, you wouldn't need the help of bashing Contrapoints. The jump would never have happened if you thought that. Now that I know about him, I do think he's that bad. But you don't!
And I don't care that you can say that Natalie has been showing up on NPR and news outlets. Know who else has done that? Anita Sarkeesian. Anita went all the way to the fucking U.N.. And how much influence does she have on any of your lives? A hair above zero, that's what. Y'all think you're better than gamergaters or the republicans bashing Greta Thunberg? Nah. Ya ain't.
There are a few youtubers who have made some OK, good-faith critiques. But you twitter folk are garbage humans.
I don't have anything negative to say about the rest of the video.
submitted by Aerik to u/Aerik [link] [comments]

The Magineer - Chapter 28

Chapter 28

First
Previous
Patreon
Discord
Visit the GameLit Society Group on Facebook!
SPELL Programming Expression and Logic Language Specification
~-~
A/N: Since the schedule is shot to hell, I’m releasing another in rapid succession! Enjoy! (And don’t put a price on my head for the constant cliffhangers, the story just comes out this way)
On a similar note, the guy below approves of chaotic releases, blame him.
~-~
Fernandez, God of Discordant Melodies and Clanky Washer Machines cackled madly. For today was yet another glorious day.
~-~
Everyone was silently watching the new [Færie Queen] blossom, when a violet pillar of light suddenly shot into the sky and a global announcement shocked every living intelligent being in the whole plane.
Global Announcement: HARK AND REJOICE, FOR TODAY MARKS THE ASCENSION OF A NEW [FÆRIE QUEEN]! (+10 LCK FOR 1 WEEK FOR THOSE WITH A NON-EVIL ALIGNMENT)
As for Ethan, he witnessed a different and personalized series of messages after the global announcement.
For witnessing the ascension of a new [Færie Queen] in person, all those present have been blessed with a permanent bonus of +5 to the secret attribute: LCK.
For personally instigating this chain of events, you have been awarded a new title: Friend Of The Fæy, granting you a permanent extra +10 bonus to LCK and a positive relationship boost with all creatures of the Fæy.
Chaos Reign has reached level 2. [+20 XP]
You have been touched by the flows of chaos. (+2 SP) [Base 1.0 * 2 Chaos Reign Bonus ]
“HELL YEAH, BOY!” Ethan burst out with a shout and pumped a fist in the air. He loved it when his stupidly risky bets proved rewarding. His reckless – not to mention expensive – purchase of [Chaos Reign] had just been justified.
Everyone was snapped out of this sacred moment to look at him in shock. Elder Ro smacked him on the head with her cane, as per usual. He suddenly remembered he was in the presence of a [Færie Queen].
“Sorry about that, your majesty. I apologise for my outburst.” He said sheepishly to Elnora, his face reddening.
The new [Færie Queen] burst out laughing, with tears of joy flowing down her cheeks. She picked the glowing sceptre from the air and approached him. She handed it to him, then embraced him warmly.
“No. On behalf of all my people, I thank you.” She whispered into his ear in her melodic voice. “For you are truly the [Harbinger] of a new age, and forever a friend to all the Fæy.” She lifted her delicate hands and cupped his chin, then kissed him passionately on the lips.
He immediately noticed her pointy, naked breasts digging into his chest and tried to disengage himself from her kiss gently. Her lips were warm and soft. But he was somewhat embarrassed by what was assuredly happening inside his breeches. Alas, he was too late, as a flying menace barrelled into him and disengaged the kiss forcefully.
“Wha–?” He couldn’t even finish the question when he was interrupted by a furious barrage of accusations.
“Why are you kissing that nude tramp? You brainless, stupid…” A very angry Eragoth started shouting, pointing, and stammering.
“And who might you be, winged adversary, to deny me the sweet kiss of my saviour?” Elnora interrupted with a frown, stepping up to block Eragoth’s way.
“She’s Elder Eragoth, our former Matriarch, and she’s coming with me. Now if you’ll excuse us?” Elder Ro interjected firmly, before the situation could devolve any further. She stepped forward and separated the two ladies apart with her cane, then started herding a very flustered Eragoth away, who shot Ethan a venomous parting look, before harrumphing and turning away.
A bewildered Ethan was sat on his ass pondering this event when the Dwarf burst out laughing, and Elder Ro turned back to give him a mysterious smile as she led Eragoth towards the settlement.
“What the hell just happened?” Ethan asked in confusion.
“Ye be between a rock an’ a hard place, me boy. If’n me guess be right.” Felwar wheezed in between wry chuckles.
~-~
After Ethan led the group to his tent – since he had no idea where to leave them, frankly – he sat outside by the campfire with Faisal and Felwar, the human [Enchanter] and the Dwarven [Scholar], while the women changed their clothing and freshened up inside and did whatever it is that women did in groups.
Faisal Tolsom sat silently on a log, holding the sceptre in his hand and scrutinising it thoroughly, while the Dwarf picked Ethan’s brain over the events of the fight with the [Defiler] in great detail.
Felwar Ironvine seemed a deft conversationalist, however, and whenever Ethan tried to get in a question edgewise, the Dwarf directed the conversation back to Ethan himself somehow.
“But how does it work?” Faisal finally asked in wonder, interrupting one of the Dwarf’s attempts at wheedling information out of Ethan.
“What do you mean?” Ethan asked him in puzzlement.
“I’ve been an [Enchanter] my entire life, and I’ve never seen such an enchantment before.” The man spoke slowly, as if hesitating to voice his thoughts. “I’ve seen the works of Master [Enchanters], and yet… none of their works come close in complexity to this.”
“And what be so different ‘bout this one, then?” The Dwarf asked curiously.
“It’s massive and complex! Enchantment is usually done in stages, with separate runes; each performing a single function and connecting to other runes, which also perform their own discrete functions. This artefact,” he hefted the sceptre reverently, “does not retain that structure. It is a single, massive, infinitely complex, and perfect rune. A single entity that encompasses everything it is, to an unknown function.”
He paused.
“I can’t grasp heads nor tails of it. I can’t tell where one part ends and another begins.” He said with a frown and a frustrated look. “How did you achieve this?” He looked at Ethan and asked him pleadingly.
Ethan cleared his throat. The jig was up. He was in trouble now. He had to bluff his way out of this delicately and with great care. The secret of his AI implant could not be revealed no matter what.
“It’s a secret technique I invented.”
Or just reply with that.
“I assume it has to do with the way Primordial Magic and those Thaums you mentioned work?” The [Enchanter] wheedled him for information. “Which would make this…” he paused, savoring the words for the first time, “… a Primordial Enchantment?”
“Precisely; but you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t divulge all the details right now. Because I really can’t, even if I wanted to, it’s too complex a topic to explain.” Ethan said apologetically.
“Of course! I’m just curious about a couple of things…” the man said.
“Sure, what’s on your mind?”
“First is… how do you use it?” Faisal questioned.
“Er… It works with intent? You have to channel your Spell or Skill through the sceptre. The sceptre then consumes all the different runes you cast, learns them, then optimises the whole structure into a single Primordial Spell, amplifying the effects.”
“Intent control? A learning enchantment? Such outlandish concepts… I mean… I’ve seen legendary works, where true Masters have managed to bind a spirit to the item in addition to the soul powering the enchantment to interpret commands, or transfer knowledge; but this is completely new… Did you invent such schemes all by yourself?” He looked bewildered.
“It’s based on a branch of advanced science, and to be completely honest: I can’t claim to have invented all the concepts myself; but I think I might be the first to apply it to an enchantment.” Ethan said slowly.
“What science is this?” The man asked.
“It’s a very complex field that I can’t just…” Ethan began to evade.
“Please try to explain. You don’t have to explain everything immediately, and I promise not to pry; but you have to understand: enchantment is my field. It is my passion, and I thirst for this knowledge. We don’t follow our Goddess without reason. Curiosity is our virtue.” Faisal said pleadingly.
Ethan sighed before launching into a long explanation.
“It’s a very advanced branch of applied mathematics called Machine Learning. Specifically, a certain application called Artificial Neural Networks. To put it simply: it is a way to allow machines to process information and design them with logical thinking and decision-making in mind. A way to simulate an important function of the biological brain: learning and problem-solving, accelerated to astronomical speeds.” he paused briefly, “In this case, I’ve used an algorithm called a Generative Adversarial Network to grant the enchantment the ability to learn and improve in an unsupervised manner.” He tried to place emphasis on the exact scientific terms and hoped for the best to come through in translation.
“This particular enchantment is composed of over four million individual logic gates made out of conditional thaums, and consists of two main competing circuits, embedded in the enchantment itself: one of the circuits tries to enhance the spell by combining and testing different models and layouts, while another tries to evaluate and spot any mistakes in the other’s work. They are eternally locked into this back-and-forth exchange, which is a system called a zero-sum game where I come from.” He looked up, unsure of how to simplify his words further, “They both prey on each other’s mistakes, driving each other to learn and improve. Each network trying to beat the other by excelling at its speciality, and the process continues until a threshold is reached: an optimal solution is found or the spell is at least ten times stronger. If no optimal solution can be found in a certain time frame – measured in milliseconds, mind you – then the best result is used; which means that, in the worst case of complete failure, the resulting spell can’t ever be worse than the original.”
In truth, the sceptre was a carbon-copy of the program he designed and his AI implant had compiled to learn and analyse spells and convert them into the Primordial equivalent, in enchanted circuit form. He’d been toying with the idea ever since Eragoth showed him her treasure hoard, and allowed him to study the enchantments within. He’d been given the chance to observe conditional thaums in action, and after he’d quickly confirmed the possibility of logic gates; he’d made full use of the time between that moment and his crafting of the sceptre to condense this knowledge into this enchantment design. When he’d overcharged himself with Mana, he saw it as an opportunity to enchant something massive that could not normally be enchanted in one setting, and what was better than to test this massive new design? In truth, without the assistance of his AI implant, it would have been impossible to assemble such a huge number of thaums.
No sane [Mage] or [Enchanter] would attempt such a thing, he thought.
The fact that he’d summoned a rare, high-grade type of Magicite crystals and pure gold as a medium didn’t go amiss, either. What he didn’t mention was that the Magicite performed two important functions: the first was the standard function of anchoring the soul powering the enchantment, and the second was a property that he’d discovered in hindsight, and accounted for on the fly:
Magicite was an excellent medium to store data.
The crystals were almost DNA-like in the way they could adapt and recombine. They had many different configurations, similar to peptides in organic cells, and could combine in a myriad of ways. This property was used by the sceptre to store knowledge. The information was stored in a manner that could be decoded, and he planned on using it to collect more information later, when – and if – he allowed other casters to use the sceptre. Since he’d be able to transfer the sceptre’s new knowledge to his own implant’s data storage.
He snapped out of his ruminations to observe the two men sitting across from him in silence. They both looked lost.
The explanation was nightmarishly complex and far too alien-sounding to the other two, but Ethan couldn’t just explain the scientific concepts in simple layman terms so easily. Both men stared at him wordlessly; although Faisal looked fascinated beyond doubt upon hearing of so many new and previously unknown concepts.
Ethan cleared his throat, “What this means in practice is that the sceptre is capable of learning… It will memorise all used spells and commonly used runic patterns, and will become smarter with consecutive iterations. Casting the same spell through the sceptre again and again will initiate the process anew, and may improve and optimise the spell even further, as more venues to perform the same task are discovered and catalogued. It will become more knowledgeable as it is exposed to more varied spell models, more spell schools,” He paused, “…and more importantly: more unique thaums, which will expand its ever-growing dictionary and spell vocabulary.” He finished.
Silence reigned for a moment as Faisal tried to process this flood of information.
“Does this mean that our brains learn in the same way?” He finally asked.
Ethan smiled.
“No. Our brains are vastly different and are much more advanced; but they, too, contain their own circuits and complex mechanisms to learn. Certain algorithms of Machine Learning are heavily inspired by the way the brain itself works, although not all of them utilise the same concepts.”
“What is an algorithm?” Faisal asked, pronouncing the word with difficulty.
“An algorithm is best defined as a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations.” Ethan explained without thinking, “It is a way of problem-solving, where you apply a certain procedure to concrete inputs, and end up with concrete outputs.”
“Calculations? Like mathematics?”
“Yes, if you consider ‘two’ and ‘three’ as your inputs, and add the two numbers, then ‘five’ would be your output, and the algorithm in this case would be ‘addition’. A very basic single-step operation; but an important, concrete algorithm, nonetheless.” He pondered for a second, then continued, “A more complex, non-mathematical example would be maze-solving. There are many algorithms I know of to solve mazes; different sets of rules to follow and steps to perform to solve a maze with different goals in mind, while meeting different criteria, like: the shortest path, the longest path, the fastest calculation time, et cetera.” Ethan elaborated to drive the point home.
“Does this imply that, perhaps… the brain itself is an algorithm?” Faisal asked in wonderment. The Dwarf scoffed at the notion and took a swig of what Ethan assumed to be ale.
Ethan chuckled at the smart man’s train of thought and the Dwarf’s antics.
“Well, perhaps in essence. I personally think that’s the case, although not many will agree.” Ethan finally said, “I personally believe that the brain is an algorithm like any other. It has inputs: the various senses we have access to, and outputs: like our voices – the spoken word, and the muscles that control the body; oh, and I guess that Spell and Skill-use may also count as methods of expression here.” Ethan pondered slowly. “The goal of the algorithm is to predict upcoming events, the ‘next state’ of being, and react appropriately.” He said with a smile at the philosophical nature of his musings, “Every moment of our lives, our brain receives inputs, measures the possible outcomes, and produces outputs to act on them, trying to guide events in a way that maximises gains to the individual from their own perspective and according to their own goals.” He paused, “Learning occurs when the predicted outcome from a situation – the ‘next state’ – differs from reality; and the brain adjusts itself to better predict what series of events come next, and face the next challenge head on. The brain is a non-linear solution to a non-linear problem, introduced by evolution – I mean nature – to use as a weapon against uncertainty.”
“Ye both be farting nonsense from yer big flappy mouths.” The Dwarf rolled his eyes.
They both chuckled.
“Nevermind then, let’s get back to our original topic: can you impart such knowledge to others?” Faisal asked eagerly.
“At present? I don’t think it will be entirely possible to teach this without the prerequisite knowledge, but I do have plans in that regard.” Ethan assured him with a smile.
“You would teach us?” Faisal asked.
“Yes.” Ethan stated truthfully.
At this, Faisal seemed quite relieved. He leaned back, somewhat more relaxed, and his mind was alight with possibilities.
Just then, the women came out of Ethan’s tent and slowly took their seats on the spread logs by the fire. The men got up, handed the sceptre to him, and headed into the tent for their turn. Faisal seemed lost in thought.
Ethan stayed seated, although reluctantly. He still wouldn’t meet Elnora’s eyes after the awkward kiss. The [Færie Queen] seemed positively glowing, though, and kept giving him sidelong glances.
Solinda, the Drake [Librarian] and [Mathematician] spoke up, hissing her way through the letter S, “I have overheard some of what you described to Faisal, and I must say that I am extremely interested in your advanced theories of mathematics and logic, and those algorithms you mentioned. You would truly teach us such secrets freely?”
“Of course I would. I personally promised Memeta that I would help teach what I know to anyone willing to learn.” Ethan said seriously, “Although, a wise man from my homeland once said this: ‘Education is not received. It is achieved.’, and I tend to agree. You’ll have to work hard on your own as well.” He said with a smile.
“And where is that exactly? Your homeland?” Nadeera, the Beastkin [Lawyer], asked with curiosity. Elnora looked interested as well.
Ethan sighed. “It’s not exactly a grand secret, I suppose you’d find out eventually from the Krell, so I might as well tell you now.” He paused and looked at the women intently, “I am not of this world. I come from a different one, with different rules. It is a universe without magic, or divine intervention.”
They all looked at him in shock, and a shirtless Dwarf launched out of the tent, hell-bent on hearing this story.
“I’ve got ta hear o’ this.” He grinned and reached for his journal, inkwell and quill, before Ethan waved him off.
“I’m not going to discuss my origins, now or in the future.” He said firmly.
“Dunna be like that, lad.” Felwar insisted, “I be the worst kind of historian and follower of the Lady if I dunna uncover this! It be a whole new world!”
“Sorry, that’s one topic I’m not willing to discuss, ever.” Ethan said sadly.
The Dwarf was about to argue further, but Elnora cut him off, “That’s enough, Felwar. Do not pressure him for something if he does not want to share it.”
“Thank you.” Ethan said to the beautiful [Færie Queen].
“I just hope you that one day, you will trust us enough to share, in time.” She said with a brilliant smile.
Just then, the sounds of tribal drums was heard, and the Krell tribespeople emerged from their tents, gathering in large groups on their way to the elders’ tent. Ethan guessed it was time for the big showdown. It looked like a decision had finally been made.
Ethan stood up as Faisal made his way out of the tent, and invited the group to follow the crowds along the path to the central clearing. They silently moved towards the bright bonfire at the heart of the camp.
~-~
Kothar stood with his tribesmen and Milandera, quietly observing the elders as they congregated around the central totem. They stood solemnly side by side with Eragoth, the ex-Matriarch, in the centre.
He’d warned Milandera not to raise her voice for any reason during the processions, and he just hoped she’d taken his warning seriously to heart. He glanced sideways at her still form, and noticed her face swimming with questions as she quietly observed.
He watched her face change from uncertainty to awe as his strange friend, Ethan West, strolled into the clearing, flanked by a curious group of foreigners made up of varied racial and cultural backgrounds. He’d heard about them from the rumours running around, but this was his first time seeing them firsthand.
Eragoth was staring daggers at Ethan and his group, and for some reason she looked even more furious than usual.
He noted the way Ethan was eying the thousands of tribespeople streaming into the clearing with obvious nervousness playing across his features, and decided to edge closer to comfort him a little with his presence at his side. They had both developed a strong sense of camaraderie after their shared gruelling trial against the cultists, and the time and conversations they shared while climbing the treacherous mountainside.
Ethan smiled slightly and looked a bit more assured when he observed Kothar approaching. He nodded with a chuckle when Kothar punched him gently in the shoulder and issued a friendly grunt.
“Are you ready for this?” Kothar asked him as he sidled alongside him and glanced at the elders arrayed not too far away. Milandera went on to greet and mingle with the foreigners, and they started talking in hushed conversations.
“I’m not too sure. Kinda nervous to be honest.” Ethan whispered back.
“Pfffft,” The [Warrior] scoffed, “If anyone should be nervous, it should not be you, my friend.” Kothar said. “You’ve already faced worse. Eragoth doesn’t hold a candle to the foe you’ve slain.” He said knowingly, “Besides,” He continued, “You’ve earned your rightful place twice over.”
“I’m not afraid of Eragoth,” Ethan lied, “I’m just weary of the responsibility. Leadership is not my forte.” Ethan cleared his throat.
Kothar shrugged, “The best leaders are the ones who give due respect to their station.” He said calmly, “They live longer than the boisterous fools who feel entitled to a birthright; and Eragoth,” He nodded towards the late Matriarch and lowered his voice, “Has been rooted in her power for too long. It is the time for change, I say.” He finished with conviction.
“What if I screw up?” Ethan asked, uncertain.
“Then I’ll be here, and I’ll offer my humble assistance, should you accept it.” Kothar stated simply.
Ethan sighed and tried to calm his gallivanting heart. Although something else played across his features now… hope?
“Thanks, man.” He replied quickly, before the drumming came to a stop, and the elders motioned him forwards.
Ethan advanced towards the gathered elders, and the big totem they stood underneath. Kothar noticed his steps were surer. His shoulders were squared, and he held himself differently. He issued a silence prayer to whomever was listening, and watched Ethan reach their line before stopping.
“Ethan West, Arru Amati. One who has challenged divinity…” began Elder Jiran, “…and emerged victorious.” She stated for the benefit of those present, “You came to us from a different world, and yet you have proven yourself in body and spirit.” She paused, “For you share our bonds of brotherhood. You sacrificed yourself to still the angry spirits of this volcano. You saved us from the wrath of the Gods.” She looked around, “For that, we named you Krell!”
“Krell! Krell!” The entire gathering erupted and thousands of people bellowed and thumped their feet, shaking the ground. Kothar joined them with enthusiasm. Milandera and the group of foreigners looked bewildered and awed by such a display of respect.
The elder signalled for silence, and all gathered stilled and listened once more.
Elder Matta took the mantle, and continued speaking, “A Krell is the essence of courage, for we are the [Warrior] and the [Hunter], the shaman and the [Chieftain]; and although you were no [Chieftain], you challenged the Matriarch, and against all odds, yet again you won. For the first time in a thousand years, Eragoth was defeated.” She paused, “For that, we judged you worthy!”
Ethan looked uncomfortable, but she went on, oblivious to his predicament and Eragoth’s ire. Eragoth was looking at her feet. She had an almost tangible dark cloud marring her features and looked positively murderous.
“Because our Matriarch was defeated in single combat by you – who are no [Chieftain] – we issued a Trial to all the [Chieftains], and granted you your righteous chance to compete and overcome,” She raised her voice, “And overcome you did! You defeated all those who came before you. You defeated all who challenged you, and yet…” She paused theatrically, “Not all the challenges were met, because we came upon grave knowledge.”
There was a round of murmured words at this.
Elder Ro stepped up and began speaking, “Because our enemies are coming!” Her powerful voice echoed above the gaggle, loud and clear, “They scheme and gather their armies to bring to bear! The Polarii wish to invade our mountains! To raze our homes! Like they invaded our villages in the valley!”
The crowd began to stir, discordant shouts and unrest alighted amongst the tribespeople. She waited patiently until they quieted down once more, then continued in a shaky voice, as she looked Ethan in the eyes, “Because of this, we had a decision to make, and the elders have decided: Ethan West, we charge you with a task: lead us forward, and bring our enemies to heel! Show them what it means to be Krell!”
“Krell! Krell!” The shouts and thumps shook the mountains once more.
“You can’t do this!” “He’s not one of us!” Discordant shouts issued from the side, and a long forgotten nuisance stepped forth.
[Chieftain] Telk stepped forth with a gaggle of tribesmen, looking intimidating and carrying spears. Fortunately, no shamans stepped forth with them.
“You would speak against us, Telk? The elders have spoken, you forget your place!” Elder Ro said in disdain.
“We will not bow and scrape to an intruder. He’s no Patriarch of mine! I challenge this weakling to honourable combat, if he does not wet his breeches first!” Telk challenged with impunity.
The elders glared at his group with poorly concealed wrath, but he seemed unphased.
“You of all know our ways! You may not challenge him yet, not for a full year and a day.” Elder Matta spoke up.
“That’s if this farce is allowed to commence. I will not allow him to assume the Mantle!”
Kothar was about to step forward and support his friend, when Eragoth; who’d been silent all this while, looked up with furious, sinister eyes.
“YOU OVERSTEP YOURSELF!” She bellowed and her wings materialised. A clawed wing took Telk in the chest and threw him back into his gaggle of gathered [Warriors], who shouted in dismay as his blood sprayed into their faces. They all backed away in fear.
“You… you would support him? Your… sworn adversary?” Telk spoke with difficulty, astonished.
“Speak not, worm. He is my prey! Only I get to reclaim my rightful place.” She said with ice in her voice. “Now, if you wish to see a tomorrow with your pathetic hides, scurry. For my next strike will not be so merciful.”
They all retreated quickly after that.
“Now, Ethan West, are you ready to assume the Mantle of Leadership and lead our nation, for a year and a day?” She asked in her glacial voice, emphasising that last bit.
Ethan looked nervous, but to his credit, he managed not to flinch as she stalked forward, and took his head between her clawed hands.
He looked up and nodded, “I am.”
She looked him in the eyes, took a deep breath, and blew into his face.
That was when Ethan’s eyes widened, then closed, and he began to scream.
~-~
Name Ethan West Species Human
Class (1st) Harbinger – Science (Level 11) Strength (STR) 18
Class (2nd) Magineer – Chaos (Level 11) Vitality (VIT) 17
XP (Deferred) 676 (0) Dexterity (DEX) 23
AP/SP Available 0 AP / 2 SP Agility (AGI) 24
Health 173/173 (+1.7/min) Intelligence (INT) 39
Mana 302/319 (+1.95/min) Wisdom (WIS) 29
Soul type Sapient Willpower (WIL) 122
Title Description
Divine Lawbreaker You have broken a Divine Law and incurred the wrath of the heavens. Beware the consequences.
Runebreaker You have transcended all forms of magic and unlocked the more mystic base elements behind it. You now wield great power over the arcane. Beware lest you err!
Divine Slayer You managed to do what few claimed to do throughout the history of the world: to slay a higher being and live to tell the tale!
Divine Artificer You have created a divine-grade artefact. Guard it dearly, lest it falls into the hands of your enemies!
Friend Of The Fæy Grants you a permanent extra +10 bonus to LCK and a positive relationship boost with all creatures of the Fæy.
Affliction Level Description
Mana Deficit 1 (0%) Your mana has regenerated, but the effects linger. Your mana regeneration is halved for one week.
Skill Level Progress Cost Description Origin
Analyse (Active) 9 0.18 5 MP You analyse any object or living being, obtaining information about it. More details will be revealed as the level of this skill rises. [Scientist, Level 1]
Lecture (Passive) 5 0.78 You instruct another character on a subject. The level of knowledge conveyed and the success rate are limited by the level of this skill. [Harbinger – Science, Level 5]
Assemble Schematic (Active) 2 0.27 15 MP You assemble a schematic quickly and efficiently. 10% Less material wasted per level. [Engineer, Level 1]
Adjust Entropy (Sustained) 6 0.78 ~ Adjust the level of entropy in a system or creation. 10% To effectiveness per level. [Chaos Engineer, Level 5]
Stabilise (Active) 2 0.88 ~ Allows you to stabilise any chaotic reaction, quickly bringing down the energy of an unstable system, chemical reaction, spell, or machine. [Chaos Engineer, Level 5]
Mana Manipulation (Passive) 5 0.02 The ability to manipulate mana is at the core of spell-casting. This skill governs how much mana your body can channel. 2% bonus to maximum mana per level. [Magineer – Chaos, Level 8]
Rune Mastery (Passive) 3 0.56 The ability to construct and maintain spell models in one’s mind is what governs Rune Magic. Your mastery over runes will increase with the level of this skill. Can control +2 extra runes per spell model per level of this skill. [Magineer – Chaos, Level 8]
Design Schematic (Active) 2 0.43 100 MP Allows you to design a schematic. [Scientist, Level 2]
Chaos Reign (Passive) 2 0.26 Chaos reigns! Your mere presence instigates chaos around you. [Magineer – Chaos, Level 10]
Meld (Active) 3 0.08 4 MP You shape an object or material to your liking, consuming mana in the process. [Magineer – Chaos, Level 10]
~-~
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